Enda Kenny today Screengrab
Leaders' Questions

Kenny insists HSE chief has not been forced out

Enda Kenny came under fire over the proposed restructuring of the Health Service Executive during Leaders’ Questions in the Dáil today.

TAOISEACH ENDA KENNY has insisted that the head of the Health Service Executive, Cathal Magee, has not been forced out by the financial situation there despite claims from opposition parties today.

During Leaders’ Questions in the Dáil Kenny faced questions over the projected deficit of €500 million in the executive this year and the departure of Magee which was confirmed today.

Fianna Fáil’s Micheál Martin said that Magee was a “highly regarded individual with considerable integrity” who had been placed in an impossible situation by the Minister for Health James Reilly.

Kenny said that a new HSE governance bill will be published today which will establish a “much clearer line of accountability” when it comes to the provision of funding for health services.

It is expected that the existing structures of the service will be replaced with a Director General and new directorates for various divisions within the HSE. Kenny denied that Magee had been forced out by the changes to be announced today insisting he had been involved in discussions about the new structures.

“Having considered the new structure to be set in place, Mr Magee has indicated it his intention to depart,” the Taoiseach told deputies.

Kenny said that Magee had not been forced out by Martin’s claim of an “impossible situation” within the health service and thanked him “for his service as a person of integrity and commitment”.

‘Volatile Minister’

Responding, Martin said: ”Taoiseach, whether you accept it or not, the current management of the HSE is a shambles” which prompted roars of laughter from the government benches.

Undeterred, Martin described Reilly as a “volatile” Minister who was being “shoved out of that position in an unacceptable manner by that Minister”.

Kenny also faced questions from Sinn Féin leader Gerry Adams who called on the government to withdraw the “highly deficient” Gaeltacht Bill which he said was flawed because of a lack of consultation with Irish language organisations.

Kenny said the bill would not be withdrawn and insisted that its passage would “preserve and strengthen the language in the years ahead”.

Independent TD Thomas Pringle brought up the issue of inequality and pointed to the study by Social Justice Ireland this week which showed that the richest ten per cent of people in Ireland are now have 14 times more disposable income than the poorest ten per cent.

Pringle asked the Taoiseach to commit to having the upcoming budget “equality proofed” and called for the more wealthy in society, including members of the Dáil, to pay more in taxes.

Kenny said he would not speculate on the measures to be announced in December’s budget: “[The government] will make its decisions in the interest of fairness and seeing that waste is eliminated and that those who can contribute should contribute.”

On the issue of members of the house paying more taxes, Kenny remarked to Pringle: “You might start by paying the household charge”.

VIDEO: Kenny, Martin argue over ‘missing’ bank guarantee files

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