Clean bill of health for Reilly but Róisín wants a second opinion
DAIL SKETCH:Things are out of sorts at the Department of Health as Róisín presents with symptoms of disaffection, writes MIRIAM LORD
A THUMPING majority for Dicey Reilly in the Dáil. But not before he got a rocket from Róisín.
Buoyed by a solid Cabinet endorsement and the noisy swagger of Government backbenchers, the Minister for Health sailed through his confidence motion with a huge margin of votes.
But that’s not the full picture. Deputies on all sides didn’t need a white coat and stethoscope to diagnose that Dr James Reilly’s department is seriously out of sorts.
His junior minister, Labour’s Róisín Shortall, presented with full blown symptoms of disaffection last night.
The Fianna Fáil effect merely served to disguise the full nature of the disorder. Fianna Fáil is the Coalition’s all-purpose paracetmol. It soothes whatever ails them.
Round two of the confidence motion in the Minister for Health saw packed Government benches whipped in to provide surgical support. Led by the Taoiseach, speaker after heavyweight speaker gave Reilly a clean bill of health.
Eamon Gilmore supplied a ringing endorsement – mainly by attacking Fianna Fáil and its shambolic record in health.
Michael Noonan cut loose and excoriated Fianna Fáil for having the neck to table its no-confidence motion after the mess it left behind in the department.
“I think you should pack your tents, apologise to the Minister, move the adjournment of the House, and we’ll all go home,” he concluded to whoops and applause from delighted backbenchers.
Labour’s Kathleen Lynch, the other Junior Minister in Health, took a similar tack. It was only at the end of her contribution, when an Opposition Deputy murmured about her lack of overt support for Minister Reilly, that she vociferously voiced her full confidence in the Minister.
But they would say that, wouldn’t they? There was more interest in Shortall’s take on the matter. Everyone wanted to see whether she would toe the line and back her senior Minister. Given the reports of her differences with Reilly, it seemed a tall order.
In an icy contribution, Róisín pointedly ignored any reference to the confidence motion. She couldn’t even bring herself to mention her Minister’s name.
Instead she questioned the direction of Government health policy and outlined her many misgivings about it. “Are we going to reform and strengthen our public health service or are we going to privatise large parts of it?” As she spoke the light-hearted atmosphere evaporated in the hushed Chamber.
“Hardly a ringing endorsement,” remarked an Opposition Deputy when she finished.