Multiplier effect leaves Reilly on dicey ground
DÁIL SKETCH:The Minister for Health struggles to come to grips with selection criteria for care centres
JAMES REILLY furnished the Dáil with the verbal equivalent of a doctor’s prescription yesterday – unintelligible, as opposed to illegible.
For a man so anxious to explain he wasn’t responsible for the Great Bump-Up of Balbriggan, the Minister for Health baffled and bamboozled instead of clarifying and enlightening.
Here’s the stand-out highlight from Dicey Reilly’s brain frying exercise in obfuscation: “I have laid it out three or four times to you: the criteria. They’re quite extensive criteria and, because all of them act in different ways, it’s a bit like a multiplier.
“One and one makes two and two and two make four but four by four makes 16 and not four and four makes eight and so it is with this. It’s a logistical, logarithmic progression, so there is nothing, there is nothing simple about it.”
You can’t beat a university education.
Labour’s Ruairí Quinn, who took Leaders’ Questions because the Taoiseach, Tánaiste and most of the Cabinet were on an away day to Brussels, went in to bat for his fellow Minister at the start of Dáil business. Reilly – not in Brussels but not inclined to show his face in the chamber either – was dish of the day.
Sliced, diced and served up by the Opposition after fresh information emerged about his spot of off-list skiing with the primary care centres of North Dublin. But Ruairí wasn’t concerned in the least, giving the impression he didn’t know what the fuss was all about.
“I’m quite satisfied with the information I’m getting from Dr Reilly,” said the Minister for Education, with a totally straight face.
If Fianna Fáil’s health spokesman Billy Kelleher wasn’t happy with the explanations already given by Dr Reilly, about how two towns in his constituency were bumped up a carefully compiled list of locations for these care centres, well, perhaps, he hadn’t asked the right questions.
“I’ve put down the questions, but I haven’t got the answers,” protested Billy.
Back in 1995, when Quinn was in a different government, his taoiseach John Bruton was accused of withholding information and he famously replied that the opposition hadn’t “asked the right question”. Some of the old-timers in the chamber felt a bit of a shiver when Quinn rehashed that little episode of Rainbow coalition infamy.
Was it not supposed to be different this time? So many questions about how Balbriggan and Swords slithered up the list, although Róisín Shortall resigned as Reilly’s junior minister because she thinks she knows the answer.
She insists it’s a case of “stroke politics” – Dicey diverting a little gravy to his home patch.
Judging by the private reaction of many government and Fianna Fáil deputies – not to mention a few media folk – in Leinster House over the past week, it’s just your average, run-of-the-mill “stroke.” And sure doesn’t everyone do it? Back to Quinn, who couldn’t answer most of the questions yesterday morning.