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Dublin: 13 °C Thursday 17 October, 2019
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Leo Varadkar compares Micheál Martin to Arnold Schwarzenegger

The Health Minister said Martin lives in “a fairytale”.

Total Recall
Total Recall
Image: Pinterest

LEO VARADKAR HAS hit out at Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin over his record in health.

During the leaders’ debate on RTÉ earlier this week, Martin said when he left the ministry in 2004 the health service was, by any metric, treating more patients more successfully than the current government are.

Varadkar told Morning Ireland he’s “not somebody who usually goes personal” but felt obliged to challenge Martin’s assertion.

The Health Minister said Martin is “a very good debater but he’s an even better deceiver”, stating: “He told quite a number of untruths in the debate on Monday night.”

Varadkar said he has gone through the figures and, since 2004, outpatient appointments are up by 30%, the number of people with medical cards has increased from 28% to 38%, and the number of surgical day cases is up by 76%.

He said Martin’s statement is “entirely untrue”.

I’m not sure if you know the film Total Recall, there’s a Arnold Schwarzenegger character who manages to have alternative memories planted in his brain and it seems to me that’s where we are with Micheál Martin. He’s created a whole fairytale about his period in health and, not dissimilar, his period in foreign affairs.

Host Cathal Mac Coille noted the current government’s own record on health is questionable, citing much-delayed plans for universal health insurance and free GP care, and a record number of people on hospital trolleys before Christmas.

Broken promises

Varadkar said he has “always tried to be upfront about the situation in health”, adding: “Some of those targets weren’t met, we came very close in some cases.”

“I totally accept that when it comes to health we didn’t deliver on our promises,” Varadkar said, noting this is “one of the reasons we want a second term”.

He said the country’s economy is at stake, noting growth will not continue regardless of who is in office after the general election.

Fianna Fáil were unable to send a representative to be interviewed on air, but a statement read out on behalf of the party described Varadkar’s comments as “a pathetic, personal attack” on Martin and “a sign of desperation and a start of negative campaigning”.

Robbery

Meanwhile, Varadkar was asked about being caught up in the aftermath of an armed robbery in a shop in Carpenterstown in Dublin yesterday evening.

Two men, armed with a gun and a machete, threatened staff before making off with a sum of cash.

“I arrived in the shop … as one of the burglars was leaving so didn’t see the weapons.”

Varadkar said “thankfully nobody was injured” but some staff were “very shook up”. He’s due to make a statement to gardaí about the incident later this morning.

Read: Leo Varadkar caught up in armed robbery while canvassing

Read: Obama asks Republicans to ‘rise above the venom’ after judge’s unexpected death

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Órla Ryan

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