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Ministers in turf war over health policy


Leo Varadkar

Leo Varadkar

Leo Varadkar

HEALTH Minister Leo Varadkar is still locked in a battle with Children's Minister James Reilly over who is charge of public health policy around smoking, obesity and alcohol.

The turf war over where the civil servants working on combatting tobacco and alcohol abuse will be based, is still going on.

Minister Reilly's officials claim the movement of staff to the Department of Children is still an option being examined.

Following the Cabinet reshuffle, Dr Reilly was supposed to take some of the public health elements with him to the Department of Children.

Mr Varadkar said there will be "no silly turf war" over who is responsible for public health. He confirmed the public health section will remain in his Department - and not be taken by Dr Reilly.

He said there are certain elements his predecessor will take the lead on, such as anti-tobacco policy.

Dr Reilly will also be involved in alcohol and obesity policies, particularly where they affect children.

But the legislative responsibilities are expected to remain in the Department of Health.

Mr Varadkar also plans to bring forward a Public Health Bill, dealing with alcohol and other matters, next year.

But Dr Reilly's spokesman said moving some officials from the Department of Health to the Department of Children is an option being examined.

However, it seems Dr Reilly will only have a minor role working with the Department of Health on certain policies.

When Dr Reilly was moved from the Department of Health to the Department of Children, a range of areas of public health policy were supposed to move with him.

Taoiseach Enda Kenny is believed to have been in favour of the move as it put a sweetener on his demotion.

Dr Reilly himself spoke last month about officials meeting to discuss "the most appropriate parts to bring to the Department of Children and Youth Affairs".

The former Health Minister was heavily involved in campaigns around obesity and reducing smoking.