Kenny and Gilmore 'disappointed'
REACTION:TAOISEACH ENDA Kenny and Tánaiste Eamon Gilmore last night both expressed disappointment at Róisín Shortall’s resignation.
Speaking to reporters on his way into a function in Dublin, Mr Kenny said he had received a letter from Ms Shortall earlier confirming that she was relinquishing her position.
“I understand the challenges that face any public representative that has to take a position like this,” Mr Kenny said. He thanked Ms Shortall for her efforts in the department and complimented her for her work on the subject of alcohol abuse which, he said, was just about to come to fruition.
Mr Kenny said he had been in contact with Tánaiste Eamon Gilmore, who is in New York for a meeting of the United Nations General Assembly. In an apparent reference to the matter of filling Ms Shortall’s former position, he said Mr Gilmore would make his intentions clear in the near future.
A spokeswoman for Mr Gilmore said the Labour leader was “very disappointed”, adding that he very much appreciated Ms Shortall’s commitment to her role as Minister of State.
The spokeswoman said Labour was very much committed to the “reform agenda” in the area of health and in the Programme for Government.
Ms Shortall also resigned the party whip, joining Tommy Broughan and Patrick Nulty.
Labour’s chief whip Emmet Stagg said Ms Shortall had been a colleague for many years, “and it is a matter of regret that she is stepping down”. Mr Stagg said it was “very unfortunate” that the dispute around primary care centre locations could not be resolved.
Mr Nulty said he fully supported Ms Shortall’s “principled decision” to resign and said she had the support of Labour’s grassroots. “The fact that she felt primary care reform, a hallmark of Labour policy and the programme for government, could not be delivered is a damning indictment on the Minister for Health,” Mr Nulty said.
Fianna Fáil health spokesman Billy Kelleher said it was “outrageous” that the Minister “who played by the rules is forced to resign”. Mr Kelleher said Dr Reilly’s tenure at the Department of Health had been “one of disorder, disappointment and dysfunction”.
Mr Kelleher said Dr Reilly was not the person to lead positive change in the health service. He claimed many Cabinet Ministers, “and the rest of the country”, had come to that conclusion.
Sinn Féin spokesman Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin interpreted Ms Shortall’s resignation as a “bodyblow” to the Fine Gael/Labour Coalition. “It’s Minister Reilly and his cuts regime who should be going, rather than a junior Minister,” Mr Ó Caoláin said. “The charges against the Coalition in [Ms] Shortall’s resignation statement are very serious, especially for the Labour Party,” he said.