Taoiseach to hold talks with former HSE chief


TAOISEACH ENDA Kenny will today hold talks with the chief executive of the HSE Cathal Magee whose resignation earlier this week has led to reports of tensions within the Government.

Mr Magee had requested a meeting with the Taoiseach in his letter of resignation which was sent to the secretary general of the Department of Health last Friday.

In an extract from the letter released last night by the HSEs national director of communications Paul Connors, Mr Magee said he would “welcome an opportunity to meet with An Taoiseach before the new legislation governing HSE governance was published”.

The Department of Health has refused to publish the full letter.

Mr Magee said in interviews on Wednesday that his decision to leave his position three years early was motivated solely by the new structures which the Minister for Health James Reilly intended to introduce.

The Opposition has contended that Mr Magee was “shoved out” by Dr Reilly.

The Government has rejected this assertion.

Sources said last night that the secretary general of the Department of Health, Ambrose McLoughlin, has suggested that Mr Magee might seek to meet the Taoiseach.

Meanwhile the political fallout continued from the revelations that Dr Reilly had not told any Labour Party Ministers that Mr Magee was stepping down until after details were published by The Irish Times on Wednesday.

Tánaiste Eamon Gilmore said it was “regrettable” he first heard of Mr Magee’s departure from the media and not from within Government.

He said yesterday he had spoken to Dr Reilly about the matter subsequently.

The Tánaistes party colleague Róisín Shortall, a Minister of State in Dr Reillys department, issued a pointed statement on Wednesday expressing regret she had found out about Mr Magee’s departure through the media and not from the senior Minister in the department.

“It is regrettable that the information leaked out in the way it did,” said Mr Gilmore. “I spoke with James Reilly about it. I am confident it is unlikely it will arise again.”

Mr Kenny moved to downplay any tensions between the Coalition partners over the issue.

He categorically rejected suggestions there had been a row on the issue and said one could not make a story out of it.

“The Tánaiste spoke to Minister Reilly. The Minister for Health has spoken back to the Tánaiste.”

The relationship between Dr Reilly and the two Labour Junior Ministers in his department has come under scrutiny amid suggestions that there has been a considerable cooling in recent months.

The Taoiseach maintained the relationship was a very professional one.

Separately Minister of State Kathleen Lynch admitted there were “tensions” in the Department of Health, adding that none of the Ministers were “shrinking violets”.

Of course, of course when you have people that have very strong opinions, and theres none of us shrinking violets, in one department you are going to have tensions, of course there is.

“Theres going to be a differing view of how things should be done.

“I think we are all agreed though of what the ultimate goal will be and thats a better delivery of health service to the people in Ireland.”

In relation to not being told about the departure of Mr Magee, Ms Lynch said she was not “hung up” about the matter.