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FF tries little-known Dáil procedure to seek primary care explanation

Fianna Fáil has tabled a “special notice question”, seeking an urgent explanation from James Reilly on his selection criteria.

Fianna Fáil health spokesman Billy Kelleher has tabled an unusual 'special notice question' for this afternoon's Dáil sitting.
Fianna Fáil health spokesman Billy Kelleher has tabled an unusual 'special notice question' for this afternoon's Dáil sitting.
Image: Sasko Lazarov/Photocall Ireland

FIANNA FÁIL is to attempt using a little-known Dáil procedure to force James Reilly to offer an on-the-record explanation of the criteria that he used to add extra locations to the list of towns being considered for primary care centres.

The party’s health spokesman Billy Kelleher has tabled a ‘Special Notice Question’ for this afternoon’s Dáil sitting – a form of urgent parliamentary question which forces the appropriate minister to attend the Dáil and speak on the issue concerned.

Kelleher’s question describes the rollout of primary care centres as a matter “of national concern”.

“I am asking that Minister James Reilly explain to the House the recent criteria he used to add fifteen centres to the primary care list and to clarify what criteria will be used for future Primary Care Centres, and if he will make a statement on the matter,” the question reads.

Dáil rules allow short-notice questions to be tabled if they are on “matters of urgent public importance”, subject to the discretion of the Ceann Comhairle who chairs all Dáil proceedings.

A Fianna Fáil spokesman said this morning that the method of raising the question was effectively the only way of ensuring that Reilly was called to the Dáil to give a full explanation on the affair, given that his rostered parliamentary questions had only been taken last week.

Ministers take turns fielding one set of oral questions each day – meaning it would be at least five weeks before Reilly would be certain of being in the Dáil again.

Though the matter of primary care centres could be raised in the Dáil as a ‘Topical Issue’, Dáil rules do not require the appropriate minister to be present – any minister or junior minister is permitted to read a written statement in response.

The Ceann Comhairle, Seán Barrett, is not expected to indicate whether he will permit the question until after 3pm.

Only one similar question has been tabled so far this year; on October 25 last year eight TDs submitted questions dealing with the severe flooding that had hit Ireland the previous evening.

Video: James Reilly explains his decision on primary care centres

Read: Shortall says reforms were “blocked” by Reilly

About the author:

Gavan Reilly

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