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Health committee chair to vote against Simon Harris in no-confidence motion

“He’s given impression that this is a priority for him,” the Independent Clare TD said.

Michael Harty speaks to the media outside Leinster House.
Michael Harty speaks to the media outside Leinster House.
Image: Eamonn Farrell

INDEPENDENT CLARE TD Michael Harty has said that he will vote against Health Minister Simon Harris in a motion of no confidence to be held tomorrow evening.

Sinn Féin have tabled a no-confidence motion in Harris in response to the controversy surrounding the increasing costs of constructing the National Children’s Hospital. 

Harty, who is the chair of the Oireachtas Health Committee, had said previously that he would abstain from the vote. But after realising that the increased costs of the National Children’s Hospital would cause a delay to the delivery of extra beds in University Hospital Limerick, the Clare TD changed his mind.

“I had indicated that I would abstain on the vote of no confidence in Minister Harris as proposed by Sinn Féin, on the basis of ensuring the government did not fall at such a critical time of Brexit uncertainty,” he said in a statement.

However I have lost trust in this Minister and this government as a result of the lack of commitment to delivering on this project as promised.

“It has been crystalised that the 60-bed modular unit in University Hospital Limerick will be delayed until mid-2020 at the earliest, providing that funding is redistributed,” he told RTÉ’s Morning Ireland.

He said that it was a “serious blow to the MidWest”, adding that the hospital delivers care to 10% of the Irish patient population.

“I have lost trust in the Minister,” he said. “It’s very difficult for me to support a minister, who after having given his commitment to the project, is now reneigning on it.”

He said that Harris appeared in front of the health committee and gave a number of statements to the Dáil, and each time he said that the hospital unit “would be delivered on and delivered on by 2019″.

This is one failed commitment I cannot accept.

He said that there was no guarantee that the money would come through in time for the unit to be opened by mid-2020, and that the hospital was facing “another year or two years of overcrowding”.

When asked whether a change of minister would make a difference, Harty said that what was more important was “a change of attitude rather than a change of minister”.

This is a failure of the government to deliver health reform, and it’s crystalised in this issue… he’s broken my trust.
He’s given impression that this is a priority for him, yet we now have a statement from UHL Group that it will open by mid-2020 at the earliest. 

“I don’t believe it will be a delay of a couple of months. I just don’t have trust in this minister and this government will deliver this by 2020.”

Despite this announcement against Harris, he’s expected to survive the motion of no-confidence. The motion has no legal power, but would simply give an indication of the Dáil’s support for a policy or figure.  

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