Martin calls for Reilly to be sacked
FF leader accuses Government of misleading Dáil on health figures in budget
Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin delivers his oration at the party’s Wolfe Tone commemoration ceremony at Bodenstown cemetery, Co Kildare, yesterday, assisted by chief marshall Seán Sherwin. Photograph: Cyril Byrne
He also accused the Government of misleading the Dáil in the budget on Dr Reilly’s figures and questioned the Cabinet’s credibility.
Mr Martin said the figures were “clearly dishonest” but that Taoiseach Enda Kenny had stood over them.
He was speaking to reporters after the party’s annual Wolfe Tone commemoration at Bodenstown cemetery in Co Kildare.
In his speech to about 150 people, he said the Government had engaged in sharp practice in the €750 million they proposed to take out of health, but that the true service cut might be as high as €1 billion. When the detail came out about the “completely unplanned initiative” for free GP care for under-fives, “it revealed the largest ever cut in primary care funding in our history”.
He said: “What’s even worse is that it is now clear the figures were made up. The department didn’t supply them and the HSE has no idea where they came from.”
Mr Martin told reporters he did not think Dr Reilly’s position was tenable, but it was the Cabinet’s decision to cut medical cards. He said: “James Reilly is clearly not in charge of health and he should be removed .”
“We tried it twice and the Taoiseach has refused,” he said of Opposition motions of no confidence in Dr Reilly, which the Government voted down.
“As long as the Taoiseach continues to support him it seems that James Reilly will have the confidence of the Government.”
Accusing the Government of dishonesty, he said: “the budget was presented to the House last week. These figures were included in the estimates last week . . . We now know the figures were made up. Where stands the credibility of the budgetary figures?
“The Government came into the Dáil last week and did not tell us the honest figures. They were clearly dishonest.”
‘Stood over figures’
Mr Martin said: “I asked the Taoiseach in the Dáil was he satisfied that the HSE director had stood over these figures. Was he satisfied that the Department of Health did? We now know that they didn’t stand over those figures. And the Taoiseach said they did.”
Asked if he had sympathy for Dr Reilly given his own experience as minister for health, Mr Martin told reporters: “James Reilly was very trenchant in his criticisms of his predecessor Mary Harney when he was in opposition and he laid it on the line and he made very strong commitments. And it was James Reilly who said before and after the election that he would abolish the prescription charge. At that time it was 50 cent; it is now €2.50.”
He said health was a very challenging department “but there is no excuse for coming into the Dáil and standing over figures one day and two days later saying ‘actually I don’t stand over them. I don’t know where they came from, they were imposed on me by others’.”