Reilly not mentioned in speech by Shortall

Thu, Sep 20, 2012, 01:00

MINISTER OF State for Health Róisín Shortall failed to make a single reference to her senior colleague Dr James Reilly in last night’s Dáil debate on motions of no confidence in him.

Ms Shortall (Labour), who is known to have a fraught relationship with the Minister for Health, devoted her speech to outlining her priorities in primary care, her area of responsibility.

She criticised the “lack of priority afforded to producing the free GP care legislation” as “very disappointing”.

The Dublin North West TD said the Government faced a huge challenge to manage and reform the health service with a reduced budget. She asked if the Government should “increase prescription charges for medical card patients or instead reduce the drugs bill”. Should they “cut public health nurses or instead collect money owed by insurance companies”, and should they “cut home helps or impose a cap on consultants’ pay”.

The Government comfortably defeated the Fianna Fáil motions of no confidence in Dr Reilly by 99 votes to 49. Three former government TDs who have lost their party whips, Fine Gael’s Denis Naughten and Labour’s Tommy Broughan and Patrick Nulty, voted with the Opposition.

Ms Shortall’s lack of endorsement of Dr Reilly was in sharp contrast to those of the Taoiseach, Tánaiste, and a number of Cabinet members and backbenchers who expressed confidence and support in the Dublin North GP.

The second Minister of State for Health, Kathleen Lynch (Labour), said she had every confidence in Dr Reilly.

“This Minister for Health is doing a tremendous job under appalling circumstances.’’

Ms Lynch said there was, finally, movement in the mental health area. The Central Mental Hospital would be replaced in the middle of the worst crisis ever seen. Rounding on Fianna Fáil, Ms Lynch said “brass necks’’ would not even describe its no confidence motion.

Taoiseach Enda Kenny rejected Opposition claims that Dr Reilly had engaged in a deeply cynical campaign in advance of the last election.

“He articulated a health reform programme that he is passionately committed to implementing.’’

Mr Kenny said he had every confidence in the Minister’s ability and determination to see the reforms he had been tasked with to fruition.

Tánaiste Eamon Gilmore described the no confidence motions as blatant and cynical examples of political gamesmanship in the Dáil.

Rounding on Fianna Fáil, Mr Gilmore said that when the party left office last year it had left behind a budget deficit of €22.4 billion, 444,000 people out of work, a banking collapse that ended up costing the taxpayer €64 billion and Ireland’s economic sovereignty surrendered.

Catherine Murphy (Ind) said the health budget put forward by the Minister was completely unrealistic. But the Government was justified in its criticism of Fianna Fáil who had created so many of the problems evident in the health services today.