Rabbitte defends Reilly in primary care site controversy
Minister for Communications Pat Rabbitte has said the Government allowed a “good news” story about the development of primary care facilities to be dominated by a controversy about where they were located.
Speaking yesterday about the continuing controversy, he said “that’s not an achievement that I’m proud of but that’s what happened”.
The controversy over primary care facilities reignited over the weekend after The Irish Times reported that two centres, at Balbriggan and Swords in Dr Reilly’s constituency, were added the evening before the full list was published by the Government last July.
Minister for Health James Reilly strongly defended his actions in drawing up the list of primary care centres. He said plans by Fianna Fáil to table a second motion of no confidence in him were not justified.
The leader of Fianna Fáil, Micheál Martin, said his party would be tabling another motion of no confidence in the Minister as soon as Dáil procedures allowed. Dr Reilly won a vote of confidence in September.
Sinn Féin leader Gerry Adams yesterday called on Taoiseach Enda Kenny to sack Dr Reilly “in light of recent revelations around the primary care centre allocation scandal and his gross mismanagement of the health service”.
Dr Reilly strongly defended his actions. “If I had it all to do again, I’d do it again.”
A number of Ministers yesterday said Dr Reilly had a very difficult job and they strongly criticised Mr Martin.
Minister for the Environment Phil Hogan said he had “full confidence” in Dr Reilly.
He said the Opposition had “a political brass neck”. He particularly pointed to Mr Martin, a former minister for health.
“Its a very difficult job the Minister for Health has to do. There’s a lot of issues that have to be dealt with that were supposed to have been dealt with by Micheál Martin as minister for health, by consolidating the old health board system into the central agency called the HSE. I think that Dr Reilly, in spite of the difficult job he has to do, is going to continue to get the support of his colleagues to implement a package of reform in the health service that’s long overdue.”
In Brussels, Minister for Education Ruairí Quinn said he would prefer to hear first from Dr Reilly before commenting on the latest disclosures about primary care centres.
“James Reilly is a member of the Irish Cabinet, of which Im also a member, and I will await to get further information should that be necessary directly from my Cabinet colleagues.”
Mr Rabbitte accused Mr Martin of “play-acting” by tabling another motion of no confidence.
Asked if he had confidence in Dr Reilly, Mr Rabbitte said he did. “We did manage as a Government to convert a good news story, which was the construction of a network of primary care centres, into a controversy and that’s not an achievement that I’m proud of but thats what happened, he said.
Mr Martin said Dr Reilly did not realise what he had done was wrong and did not realise he had held back the truth from the Dáil on this issue.
In October Dr Reilly told the Dáil the rationale behind the decision on primary care centres was a “logistical logarithmic progression”.
Former minister of state Róisín Shortall said the new documentation showed this justification by Dr Reilly to be “codswallop”.