Martin calls on Reilly to resign
Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin has called on Minister for Health James Reilly to resign in the light of an The Irish Times report on the primary care locations controversy.
Two locations in Dr Reilly’s north Dublin constituency were added to a list of places chosen for primary care centres on the evening before they were announced by the Government, newly released documents revealed.
Mr Martin said the Minister's position was "untenable" and called for him to step aside.
He was speaking at a Fianna Fáil event on universal health insurance and the Budget.
Mr Martin said the public had been “sold a tissue of lies” by the Government over the criteria for selection of primary care health centres.
Documents released to The Irish Times under freedom of information show that primary health care centres in Dr Reilly’s constituency were only added the night before being made public.
The records show that Swords and Balbriggan were added at 8pm on the night before the list of centres was announced as part of the Government’s stimulus package in July. Centres in Ballaghaderreen and Kilkenny were also added.
Mr Martin said the revelation reinforced Fianna Fáil’s stance that the Minister’s position was now untenable.
Speaking at a party national policy conference in Dublin, Mr Martin said it was clear an “11th hour decision was made on a political basis” regarding the selection of the centres.
The criteria set down by then junior minister Róisín Shortall was changed to meet Dr Reilly’s “political considerations”.
Mr Martin said he had asked in the Dáil six weeks ago for the criteria to be published.
“We were sold a pack of lies about this. We are angry about this. The Taoiseach made a huge play that “Paddy would like to know”. People want to know about these primary care centres.
“The minister [Róisín Shortall] lost her post over this and all because of an 11th hour decision by Minister Reilly.”
Mr Martin said Fianna Fáil had put down a motion of no confidence in Dr Reilly in September and since then the problem had got worse.
The Taoiseach had said there would be no need for a supplementary estimate for health, but now Minister for Public Expenditure Brendan Howlin has stated such a supplementary estimate is necessary - to the tune of €400 million, he pointed out.
The Minister had put out a “flawed and false budget” 12 months ago, he added.
Health policy analyst Dr Sara Burke told the conference it was clear Dr Reilly had put the “politics back into health care” in his decision to include Balbriggan and Swords at the last minute in the list of primary health care centres.
She said it was also evident in the formation of hospital groups.
She maintained health policy was being made by a Minister “not based on need or on evidence but purely on the whims of a Minister who has been shown to blunder and bluster his way through health care reform”.