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'So obsessed with publicity': Outgoing Labour minister's parting shot at Leo

Kathleen Lynch has given a revealing interview in which she criticises the Health Minister.

Kathleen Lynch and Leo Varadkar at a press conference (File photo)
Kathleen Lynch and Leo Varadkar at a press conference (File photo)

OUTGOING JUNIOR HEALTH Minister Kathleen Lynch has criticised Leo Varadkar, appearing to accuse the Health Minister of being “so obsessed with publicity”.

The former Labour TD, who lost her seat in Cork North-Central last month, has given a revealing interview to the Irish Examiner in which she claims she nearly resigned over mental health funding at the last Budget.

Lynch has told the paper that the government was poised not to allocate any money to mental health in Budget 2016 until her threat to resign forced a backtrack with €35 million allocated.

In the same interview, Lynch said that Varadkar’s predecessor as health minister, James Reilly, was the easiest to work with, saying: “He would give you credit — there was that kind of inert decency about him.”

When asked who she was comparing him to, Lynch said:

Compared to other ministers for health who are so obsessed with publicity.

Asked if she meant Leo Varadkar she said “compared to other ministers for health”. She was then asked to expand on her views of Varadkar, to which she responded:

I think we can often be blinded by the visual. He’s a very good communicator, he’s an excellent communicator.
He has a vision for the health service, he really has a vision for the health service, I’m just saying in comparison with James Reilly, James was far more likely to give you credit for all you had done. That’s really all that I’m saying.

Lynch remains the Minister of State with responsibility for mental health, disability and older people until a new government is formed.

13/10/2015 Health Budgets Source: Mark Stedman

In the same interview she backed Brendan Howlin over Alan Kelly to succeed Joan Burton as Labour leader and said she has “no idea” why the party nominated Mairia Cahill for the Seanad.

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Asked to respond to Lynch’s comments this morning, Varadkar insisted that he is “very fond of Kathleen”.

“I think she has done a very good job. I am devastated that she lost her seat and hope she stays involved,” he told

It’s the second time that Varadkar has come in for personal criticism from a former minister since the election.

Speaking to RTÉ earlier this month, Alan Shatter appeared to criticise his former cabinet colleague’s role in Fine Gael’s poor election:

Frances [Fitzgerald] would have been chairperson of the strategy committee; Leo [Varadkar] on – God help us – the communications committee, because the communications were a disaster.

Responding a few days later, Varadkar said that Shatter was being “charming as always”.

Read: Michael Healy-Rae says FG and FF are like a girl and a boy ‘wanting to go with each other’

About the author:

Hugh O'Connell

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