Pressure on Reilly as Shortall backs 'stroke politics' claim
29/09/2012 - 14:48:01
Opposition parties are calling on the Health Minister James Reilly to resign after former Junior Minister Roisín Shortall accused him of "stroke politics" and said he had blocked attempts to reform the health service.
In an interview on RTE this morning, Ms Shortall said former HSE chief Cathal Magee had been "driven" from his position.
She went on to describe the Health Minister's decision to locate two primary care centres in his constituency as "stroke politics."
Deputy Shortall, who had responsibility for primary care, also said James Reilly is pursuing a "business model" for the health service, instead of a patient-led approach.
She said she has serious doubts about Dr Reilly’s abilities to reform the health service, and she also accused him of a lack of commitment to the programme for government, saying he wanted to privatise many of the country's services.
“I had a series of differences with James Reilly and serious concerns about his ability to manage the health service and his ability to implement the reforms,” said Ms Shortall.
“I believed he was going down a different direction towards the more privatisation, American-style route and I still believe that.”
The former junior minister left colleagues within the Department of Health reeling following her resignation on Wednesday night.
She also quit Labour and has claimed party leader and Tánaiste Eamon Gilmore gave more support to Dr Reilly following a series of bust-ups over health reforms.
Already frosty tensions between Ms Shortall and the Health Minister came to a head after Dr Reilly added two locations within his north Dublin constituency to a priority list for new primary care centres without her knowledge.
Ms Shortall met the minister twice to discuss the issue, but he failed to give her a satisfactory explanation for his controversial decision.
Elsewhere, the former junior minister also refused to refer to Dr Reilly personally during a debate in the Dáil when Fianna Fáil tabled a no-confidence motion in the Health Minister.
In the first official interview following her resignation today, she said there had been no personality clash between the pair – but a series of disagreements over the direction of health reforms.
“There was a situation developing over a number of months where it was quite clear that James Reilly and I weren’t on the same page,” she told RTE Radio.
“I don’t believe he really subscribes to the programme for government and there were fundamental differences.”
Fianna Fáil health spokesman Billy Kelleher said her remarks gave an insight into "continued dysfunction and malaise" in the Department of Health.
Ms Shortall became the fourth Labour TD to resign the party whip since the coalition was formed 18 months ago. She joins former junior minister Willie Penrose, who resigned over the closure of army barracks in Mullingar, and TDs Tommy Broughan and Patrick Nulty on the Labour sidelines.
Taoiseach Enda Kenny later insisted relations between Fine Gael and Labour remained stable and played down speculation of a major rift within the coalition.
But he would not rule out further Government resignations, saying one could never speculate about the future.
Meanwhile, Labour leader Mr Gilmore named Dublin South TD Alex White as the new Minister of State with responsibility for primary care.
The former journalist and barrister will be formally appointed during the next Cabinet meeting on October 2.
Sinn Féin's Health Spokesperson Caoimhghin O Caolain said the Health Minister must be removed from his position.
"James Reilly should now not only be asked to leave - he should be dismissed as Health Minister," he said.
"And very importantly, it's not only a change of face and a change of hands that we need at the Department…Very definitely, we need a change in policy direction."
more stories like this:
- once per day, no spam.