Ministers offer support to Reilly
Government ministers have insisted their Cabinet colleague Minister for Health James Reilly has the full support of the Coalition despite rumours of a rift.
Minister for Education Ruairí Quinn today dismissed reports that he claimed Dr Reilly was not up to the job, saying he had full confidence in the work he was doing to reform the health service.
Minister for Enterprise Richard Bruton also defended Dr Reilly, insisting he had the most difficult job in Government and that being criticised was a natural part of the role.
“It’s not an easy job and obviously there will be criticism of anyone trying to make changes,” Mr Bruton said. “But he is delivering and he is delivering with united support from Government.”
Mr Quinn reportedly claimed during a Labour parliamentary party meeting that the under-fire health minister was not up to scratch. But he said it was not for Labour to go after his head.
He would not confirm or deny the comments, saying his position on Dr Reilly remained the same - one of complete confidence.
“I’ve said on numerous occasions that not only do I have sympathy for Dr Reilly in the difficult job he has to do, but he has my full confidence as well,” he said.
Dr Reilly has come under fire following a series of health-related controversies.
The Department of Health overran its 2012 budget by some €400 million and the addition of two locations from Dr Reilly’s constituency to a priority list for primary care centres prompted accusations of “stroke politics” and the resignation of his former minister of state Roisin Shortall.
Dr Reilly is likely to step into the firing line yet again when the Budget is announced on Wednesday, with a string of cuts likely to be imposed in his department.
His Fine Gael party colleague Mr Bruton said the Government was well aware of the difficulties faced by the public, but said the people understand tough decisions need to be made.
“We do understand the difficulty that it is causing for people, but I think people also recognise that this Government was put in there to do a job to transform this economy and to do the reforms that we are doing,” he said.
Minister for Finance Michael Noonan, speaking to reporters in Brussels, dismissed reports of strain between the Coalition parties.