Timeline leading to Shortall resignation


March 2011: Dr James Reilly is appointed Minister for Health and Róisín Shortall is appointed as one of his Ministers of State, with responsibility for primary care

October 2011: The pair clash in emails over the fees to be paid to GPs for administering the winter flu vaccine. Ms Shortall says it is “unacceptable” she had been cut out of this process.

March 2012: Another correspondence row breaks out over who is responsible for growing delays in handling medical card applications.

July 2012: Ms Shortall complains to Dr Reilly she has no delegated powers over primary care, despite seeking them. She issues a statement saying she only learned of Cathal Magee’s resignation as head of the HSE in the media.

Friday, September 21st: The Irish Times publishes a story revealing two locations in Minister for Health James Reilly’s North Dublin constituency were added to a list of places chosen for primary care centres after the a list drawn up by Minister of State for Primary Care Róisín Shortall and the HSE was passed to his department.

Ms Shortall tells Dr Reilly she found the move “hard to understand”, but Fine Gael and Labour Ministers close ranks behind Dr Reilly.

Sunday, September 23rd: Rank and file Labour members express strong support for Ms Shortall. Pressure on Dr Reilly mounts when Minister for Transport Leo Varadkar tells RTÉ’s The Week in Politics his Cabinet colleague decision “does look like” stroke politics. “I don’t know if it is or not,” he adds.

Monday, September 24th:
Dr Reilly and Ms Shortall speak by phone and make arrangements to meet. At a press conference in the Department of Health, the junior minister strongly restates her position in the row over the siting of primary care centres.

She says her “guiding concern” is for resources to where they were needed most. “We have very, very good information on that . . . It would be very foolish not to take heed of all of that important data that is available to us,” she says.

Speaking in Brussels, Tanaiste Eamon Gilmore indicates he is satisfied Dr Reilly’s decision was taken on a “balanced basis” and claims reports of feuding between the two Ministers are “exaggerated”.

Tuesday, September 25th: When the matter is raised in the Dáil by both Fianna Fáil and Sinn Féin, Taoiseach Enda Kenny defends Dr Reilly robustly.

The issue also comes up at the weekly meeting of Labour TDs and Senators, which Ms Shortall does not attend. Mr Gilmore reportedly says he hopes Dr Reilly and Ms Shortall will co-operate.

In the evening, Dr Reilly and Ms Shortall meet for around half an hour in Leinster House. The atmosphere at the meeting is tense.

Wednesday, September 26th: A new letter from Dr Reilly to Ms Shortall in July is released. Dr Reilly says if only 20 locations were put forward “there was a high probability that may GPs would simply decline to participate”. Ms Shortall resigns as Minister of State and relinquishes the Labour whip. “The public have a right to expect that decisions on health infrastructure and staffing will be made in the public interest based on health need and not driven by other concerns,” she says.