Updated at 21:10
RÓISÍN SHORTALL HAS resigned as Minister of State for Primary Care.
The Labour Party TD’s decision follows a much-publicised dispute with the Health Minister James Reilly over a number of issues including the allocation of new primary care centres to Reilly’s constituency.
She has also resigned the Labour Party whip, the fourth TD from the party to so since the formation of the coalition government following Patrick Nulty, Tommy Broughan and Willie Penrose who also resigned as housing minister.
In a statement Shortall blamed her resignation on a “lack of support for the reforms in the Programme for Government, and the values which underpin it”.
She said that the public had a right to expect decisions on infrastructure and staffing within the health service to be made “in the public interest based on health need and not driven by other concerns”.
Shortall said that her resignation came after “repeated and lengthy efforts” to reach agreement on implementation of the Programme for Government.
The Department of Health could not immediately be reached for comment. Shortall could also not be reached for comment.
It is understood that her resignation was finalised at her office in Leinster House.
At a meeting in Balbriggan this evening, Minister Reilly said that it would not be appropriate to make any comment for the moment. “The first I learned about it was on the way out here”. In response to a question from TheJournal.ie reporter Paul Hyland as to Shorthall’s criticism of the government’s failure to enact the programme for government, he said:
We support the programme for government. You’ll see we are enacting it. Parts of it may be behind but we’re going to do it.
The Tánaiste Eamon Gilmore expressed his regret at the decision. “I regret and am disappointed at the decision. I wish to thank her for her work as Minister of State at the Department of Health.”
A number of Labour TDs have tweeted expressing their sadness at Shortall’s departure. Meath East deputy Dominic Hannigan said: “Very sad to see Roisin go”.
While, Dublin North deputy Brendan Ryan said: “So sorry Roisin Shortall has resigned. Lot of support for her within the party grassroots and the general public!”
While Fine Gael TD, Alan Farrell, tweeted: “It’s easy to oppose, harder to make the tough decisions.”