Government has problem with leaking, admits Stephen Donnelly

Taoiseach and Tánaiste warned Cabinet colleagues to stop leaking, says Minister

The Minister for Health Stephen Donnelly has admitted there is a problem with the amount of leaks coming from the Cabinet.

Mr Donnelly said leaking was not “good practice and it is making the job of government more difficult. I would really like it stopped.”

He said he had never leaked and revealed that Taoiseach Micheál Martin had told Cabinet colleagues to stop the practice.

“He has and the Tánaiste has on several occasions at Cabinet talked about the fact that this needs to stop.”


Mr Donnelly was reacting to the allegation that his cabinet colleague and constituency rival Simon Harris had leaked details of the Katherine Zappone appointment to the media while a cabinet meeting was still going on.

Mr Donnelly told RTÉ's Prime Time programme that Mr Harris had "flatly refuted" the allegation, which was first made under Dáil privilege by Sinn Féin TD Matt Carthy.

“I would be very interested to see the allegation repeated outside the Dáil,” Mr Donnelly said.

The Minister was also asked about Sláintecare on the programme.

Nine days ago Professor Tom Keane, the chairperson of the Sláintecare Implementation Advisory Council, and Laura Magahy, the Sláintecare reform programme office executive director, resigned citing the slow pace of change.

Prof Keane said he came to the conclusion that the requirements for implementing this unprecedented programme for change are seriously lacking”.

It has since emerged there has been opposition within the HSE to the setting up of six regional health hubs.

Mr Donnelly said he understood they were frustrated at the slow pace of reform, but that regionalisation of the health service will still happen.

Mr Donnelly said the reason regionalisation has been paused was as a result of the pandemic. The HSE needed to focus on Covid-19, testing and tracing and the vaccine rollout.

“I didn’t want a situation where we needed ruthless focus for our healthcare system on the vaccine programme and at the same time we were telling them that we were reorganising the system and changing their jobs,” he said. “It (regionalisation) is happening.”

Mr Donnelly also confirmed that Nphet had given the go-ahead for children to remain in school even if they are close contacts of confirmed Covid-19 cases.

He said that signs were “very encouraging” and that levels of Covid-19 transmission are the same or lower in schoolchildren than those in the community at present.

Ronan McGreevy

Ronan McGreevy

Ronan McGreevy is a news reporter with The Irish Times