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Dublin: 13 °C Wednesday 21 August, 2019
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James Reilly should resign as Minister for Health - FF

Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin said James Reilly’s policies will do “immense damage” to the health system.

Micheál Martin lays a wreath at the annual Fianna Fáil Wolfe Tone Commemoration in Bodenstown in Kildare today.
Micheál Martin lays a wreath at the annual Fianna Fáil Wolfe Tone Commemoration in Bodenstown in Kildare today.
Image: Niall Carson/PA Wire

FIANNA FÁIL LEADER Micheál Martin has claimed Minister for Health James Reilly is incapable of answering “even basic questions” about what he’s doing at the Department.

Speaking at the party’s annual Wolfe Tone Commemoration in Kildare, Martin said Minister Reilly’s policies were “ill-thought-out” and would do “immense damage” to the health system.

RTÉ reports that Martin called on Reilly to resign and said that he was clearly not in control of his department.

Minister Reilly’s Fine Gael colleagues have been publicly backing him today in the wake of public anger over a review of medical cards announced in the Budget, but the move by Fianna Fáil is likely to draw more attention to Reilly’s management of what has traditionally been one of the most difficult Government departments.

The Fianna Fáil leader raised questions about how the Department of Health came up with the figures around free GP care for children under 6.

imageMicheál Martin making the keynote address at the ceremony in Bodenstown. (Niall Carson/PA Wire)

“It was, ministers said, the start of universal access to primary care,” he said. “When the detail came out it revealed the largest ever cut in primary care funding in our history.”

What’s even worse is that it is now clear that the figures were made up. The Department didn’t supply them and the HSE has no idea where they came from.
Next year the combination of these cuts and the ill-though-out new policies of James Reilly will do immense damage in the health system.
The people who work within it and rely on it are genuinely scared of what they face into.

“No-one is denying that there were tough choices to be made [in the Budget] but there were still choices and they decided to weight this budget against weaker sections of society,” said Martin.

imageMicheál Martin in Bodenstown (Niall Carson/PA Wire)

Wicklow TD Simon Harris defended Reilly saying he was “reforming our health service at a time of challenging financial constraints” – and blamed Micheál Martin for creating the HSE behemoth in the first place during his tenure as Health Minister.

“Deputy Martin founded the bureaucratic and unworkable HSE and created a culture which lacked accountability, transparency and proper financial management,” said Harris. “This Government now has to undo such structures and reform the very way our health service works.”

Speaking on RTE’s The Week in Politics earlier, Minister of State Brian Hayes said Reilly was “the most suitable person” to tackle the necessary cuts to the health budget.

Hayes: I have absolute confidence in Minister Reilly’s ability >

Poll: Do you have confidence in Health Minister James Reilly? >

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