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Róísín Shortall and James Reilly brief reporters after the 2012 Budget. Reilly told a local meeting last night that "pressure's only for tyres", just hours after Shortall quit as his junior minister. Leon Farrell/Photocall Ireland

James Reilly on Shortall's departure: 'Pressure's only for tyres'

The Minister for Health showed little disappointment at Róisín Shortall’s resignation – who the Labour chairman said had the full support of party leadership.

HEALTH MINISTER James Reilly showed little sign of disappointment in the registration his Labour junior minister Róisín Shortall – telling a group at a constituency event: “Pressure’s only for tyres.”

Speaking at an event in Balbriggan last night, within hours of Shortall’s resignation being announced, Reilly remained defiant over his handling of the controversy surrounding the allocation of primary care centres – a dispute which appeared to have been the last straw for Shortall.

“There’s been a lot of controversy recently around certain issues in the public domain … but I’m pleased that Balbriggan is going to get a primary care centre,” Reilly said.

At the opening of the Fumbally Exchange office premises, Reilly commented that the best tactic for Ireland to emerge from its current difficulties was to build a sense of community.

“It’s all about supporting each other, learning from each other,” Reilly commented, before referencing the old Irish proverb, ní neart go cur le chéile ['there is no strength without unity'].

The minister, whose Dublin North constituency includes Balbriggan, said he had “absolutely no hesitation” in saying he would be as supportive as possible to the people of that town.

Speaking to as he left the event, Reilly conceded that he had not been given advance warning of Shortall’s intention to quit.

Shortall ‘had Gilmore’s full support’ – chairman

Meanwhile Labour chairman Colm Keaveney said Shortall had been given the full support of the Labour Party executive – including the party leader Eamon Gilmore – in recent days.

Speaking on RTÉ’s Late Debate last night, Keaveney said he had witnessed Gilmore’s “categoric support for Róísín Shortall on Saturday afternoon”.

The party leader had proposed a motion of support for Shortall at a meeting of the Labour parliamentary party on Tuesday, and at meetings of both the party executive and the party central council – which features delegates from every Dáil constituency – on Saturday.

“That’s the most important audience, with respect to the business of the Labour Party,” he said, saying he was “angry at the system” that it had forced Shortall’s departure.

Asked whether it should have been Reilly that resigned and not Shortall, Keaveney asserted: “We have voted confidence in James Reilly in the recent past.”

- Additional reporting by Paul Hyland

Read: Róisín Shortall resigns as Primary Care Minister

In full: Róisín Shortall’s resignation statement

Reilly: ‘I wasn’t told in advance about Roisin Shortall’s resignation’

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