Minister of State for Health Róisín Shortall resigns
The Minister of State at the Department of Health Róisín Shortall has resigned.
In a statement this evening, Ms Shortall said she could longer fulfill the role because of a "lack of support for the reforms in the programme for government and the values that underpin it."
"It is with regret that I have today tendered my resignation as Minister of State at the Department of Health to An Taoiseach, Enda Kenny. I have also informed the Tánaiste, Eamon Gilmore, that I am resigning the parliamentary Labour Party whip, " she said.
"The public have a right to expect that decisions on health infrastructure and staffing will be made in the public interest based on health need and not driven by other concerns."
Ms Shortall said her decision had come after repeated and lengthy efforts to reach agreement on the implementation of the programme for government.
Her resignation follows days of controversy during which she demanded an explanation from Minister for Health James Reilly for his controversial decision to add two towns in his constituency to a priority list for the location of new primary care centres.
Dr Reilly and Ms Shortall met for more than half an hour in Leinster House yesterday evening. They had been expected to meet again in the coming days.
Ms Shortall, a TD in Dublin North West, took up the junior role in March last year, and her other main duties included the roll-out of free GP care, the National Drugs Strategy and policies to tackle the high rate of alcohol consumption.
She was first elected to the Dáil in 1992.
Taoiseach Enda Kenny said he was disappointed at Ms Shortall’s decision and thanked her for her work at the department. “I understand the challenges that face any public representative that has to take a position like this,” he said.
Tánaiste Eamon Gilmore said he regretted Ms Shortall's decision.
“I wish to thank her for her work as Minister of State. Róisín is an excellent public representative and a valued colleague.
“I wish to restate my determination to the full implementation of the commitments in the programme for government on health service reforms. I will be announcing in the near future my nominee to be the new Minister at the department of health to carry on that work.”
Labour Party chief whip Emmett Stagg said tonight it was "very unfortunate" that recent issues in the department of health could not be resolved.
"Róisín has been a colleague of mine for many years, and it is a matter of regret that she is stepping down," he said.
Labour TD Patrick Nulty said he "fully supported Róisín Shortall’s principled decision" to resign from Government.
“I have no doubt that Róisín has the support of the Labour Party grassroots. The fact that she felt that 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.”
Fianna Fáil health spokesperson Billy Kelleher said it was "outrageous that the Minister who played by the rules is forced to resign tonight."
“I would have my differences with Róisín Shortall and the Labour Party but she was trying to do her job in good faith. In contrast Minister Reilly’s tenure at the department of health has been one of disorder, disappointment and dysfunction.
“How much more damage does James Reilly have to do before Enda Kenny comes to the same conclusion as many within the Cabinet and the rest of the country – James Reilly is not the person to lead positive change in the health service?”