Taoiseach defends Reilly against Opposition critics


The Taoiseach has said the Minister for Health understands medical politics and has a clear strategy.

Defending Dr James Reilly against Opposition criticism, Enda Kenny said: “I am not saying we are all perfect.”

Sinn Féin deputy leader Mary Lou McDonald said the list of calamities surrounding Dr Reilly continued to grow.

“Everybody knows that the position of the Minister is untenable. The dogs on the street know this,” she added.

“When will the Taoiseach come to this realisation and relieve Deputy Reilly from his position as Minister?”

Mr Kenny said there were difficulties in any department and they would continue.

“The Minister for Health has taken on the task of cleaning up the most unholy departmental mess left behind by an outfit that put together all the health boards and imposed the superstructure of the HSE, which was palpably and patently unworkable,” he added.

“To make these changes in a time of enormous economic challenge is never easy.”

Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin said freedom of information documents had revealed how multimillion euro investments in care centres were selected by the Minister, “who essentially rode roughshod through the diligent and effective work” of former minister of State Róisín Shortall and the HSE.

Mr Kenny said that looking at the original HSE list of 227, Mr Martin himself would have to acknowledge that it was difficult to see how number one differed from number 59 or number 98 because of all of the factors required.

“I am far more interested in getting on with the job of seeing the buildings take shape and providing facilities for patients and people all over the country.”

Mr Martin insisted that there were no criteria behind the Minister’s selection of the sites.

“It is downright dishonest to suggest that there was because I cannot find it in the documentation. Nobody can.”

Mr Kenny said that when he was minister for health Mr Martin had said it took longer to get things off the ground there than in other departments. He added that Mr Martin had managed the department so well it had to be “bailed out with supplementary budgets amounting to more than €664 million”.