Pressure increases on Reilly after Shortall resignation27/09/2012 - 07:52:25
The Tánaiste Eamon Gilmore is to appoint a new junior minister for health in the near future after Roisín Shortall's resignation last night.
This morning, Labour deputy leader Joan Burton will have to face the opposition in the Dáil chamber following Deputy Shortall's announcement last night.
Ms Shortall is the second Labour minister to depart in less than a year, after Willie Penrose resigned his super-junior ministry last November in protest at defence cuts in his constituency.
She quit her post, and resigned the Labour party whip (meaning she is no longer obliged to vote with the party), citing a lack of support for the reforms pledged in the Programme for Government.
Ms Shortall had questioned why Mr Reilly added 15 locations, including two in his own constituency, to a priority list of 20 sites for primary care centres which she had overseen. Dr Reilly defended his decision, saying it was taken to foster competition for contracts.
Mr Gilmore and other Labour ministers expressed full support for Dr Reilly and his rationale.
In her statement of resignation, Ms Shortall said: "It is no longer possible for me to fulfil my role as minister of state for primary care because of lack of support for the reforms in the Programme for Government and the values which underpin it," she said in the statement.
"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.
"This decision comes after repeated and lengthy efforts to reach agreement on the implementation of the Programme for Government both within the Department of Health and across government."
Fianna Fáil health spokesman Billy Kelleher and Sinn Féin's Mary Lou McDonald said the wrong minister had resigned.
Deputy Kelleher said: "It's now with the Taoiseach to remove Minister Reilly as quickly as possible. He's simply incapable of managing the health services and working with people to bring about the reforms that are needed."
Deputy McDonald said: "The Taoiseach has to call time on the kind of politics that's about a politician's own back yard and pulling strokes."
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