Reilly and Shortall to meet again as row continues
MINISTER FOR Health James Reilly and Minister of State at the Department of Health Róisín Shortall met yesterday and have agreed to meet again as their dispute over the siting of primary care centres continues.
Dr Reilly and Ms Shortall, who has responsibility for primary care, met for more than half an hour in Leinster House yesterday evening. A spokesman for Dr Reilly said the two were expected to meet again in the coming days.
“The Ministers discussed issues related to primary care, in particular Government plans to develop primary care centres nationally,” the spokesman said.
At a post-Cabinet meeting, the spokeswoman for the Labour Party in Government was asked if Tánaiste Eamon Gilmore had confidence in Ms Shortall. “Absolutely, as he does in all his Ministers and Ministers of State,” the spokeswoman said.
The matter was referred to briefly at yesterday’s meeting of the Labour Party parliamentary group. Mr Gilmore told TDs and Senators he hoped Dr Reilly and Ms Shortall would co-operate and the priority should be to get the programme for government commitments on health implemented, according to some present.
The current row between the two Ministers in the Department of Health centres on Dr Reilly’s decision to add two towns in his constituency to a priority list for the location of new primary care centres. A priority list based largely on deprivation had originally been drawn up by Ms Shortall, who called on Dr Reilly to explain his decision to add to the list.
Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin told the Dáil yesterday that Ms Shortall “plays by the rules” and Dr Reilly “doesn’t play by the rules”.
Dr Reilly entered the Dáil chamber with the other Minister of State at the Department of Health, Kathleen Lynch, while Mr Martin was speaking.
Mr Martin said Labour was prepared to “isolate” Ms Shortall in order to protect Dr Reilly. He said Dr Reilly should come into the House to make a statement and face questions from deputies. He accused Taoiseach Enda Kenny of not being “straight” with the House in relation to the issue.
Mr Kenny defended Dr Reilly, saying the deputy leader of Fine Gael had taken on the “unenviable task” of “sorting out the mess” in the Department of Health he said had been created by the previous Government.
He said Dr Reilly would be in the Dáil tomorrow “to answer all and any questions”.
Sinn Féin deputy leader Mary Lou McDonald said Dr Reilly faced a “clear and evident conflict of interest”.
She said Dr Reilly had investments in private medicine and nursing homes at a time when public beds were being closed.
She asked whether or not Ms Shortall was aware of the additional criteria for the selection of primary care locations, including competition, that Mr Kenny mentioned in his defence of Dr Reilly.
Ms Shortall and Dr Reilly spoke on Monday, after which she said all decisions must be made in a transparent way.
“The guiding concern from my point of view is that resources go where they’re most needed, where there is established health need,” she said.