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Reilly wins confidence vote as Taoiseach and Tánaiste state their support

The Fianna Fáil proposed motion of no confidence in the Health Minister was defeated but junior health minister Róisín Shortall did not mention or refer to James Reilly once during her statement.

A MOTION OF no confidence in Health Minister James Reilly has been defeated by the government’s majority in the Dáil this evening.

The Fianna Fáil proposed motion was defeated after the government-proposed amendment expressing confidence in Reilly was won by 99 votes to 49 with not a single government backbencher wavering in their support for the Minister.

Only Patrick Nulty, who lost the Labour whip after voting against the Budget last December, voted with the opposition.

The vote followed two nights of debate which tonight included over 90 minutes of statements from members of the opposition and government ministers, among them the Taoiseach and the Tánaiste who expressed their support for the embattled Reilly.

But there was no ringing endorsement from the junior health minister Róisín Shortall who did not mention Reilly’s name once or express any confidence in him during her statement. However she did vote in support of him.

Earlier, the debate heard from a number of independents, among them Waterford TD John Halligan who said that he was “uncomfortable” with the Fianna Fáil proposed motion but would with “regret” be voting for it.

Luke Ming Flanagan said that “people should tell the truth when they go before the electorate” and accused Reilly of telling “porkies” when he was in opposition and since being found out, calling on him to resign.

Taoiseach Enda Kenny said that he had “every confidence” in the Minister and said that he has a “passionate commitment to create a health service to put the patient first”.

“Let me assure this house that Minister Reilly did not engage in a deeply cynical campaign before the last election,” he insisted, saying that Reilly committed himself to a programme of reform which he was passionate about and on which he was delivering.

Shortall tensions

Tánaiste Eamon Gilmore said that the motion was “one of the most blatant and cynical examples of political gamesmanship before this house” and slammed the previous administration.

He hailed the reforms implemented by Reilly and the junior Labour ministers in his department in a speech which was applauded by the government benches as were a number of others by coalition TDs and ministers.

Finance Minister Michael Noonan said that Fianna Fáil had “some cheek” tabling the motion of no confidence given the “shambles” it had left behind in the health service and called on the opposition party to withdraw the notion, “apologise to the Minister” and “we’ll all go home”.

Primary Care Minister Róisín Shortall, whose relationship with Reilly has been the subject of some scrutiny, did not mention the Minister’s name once during her statement or express any support for him, instead focusing on her portfolio and the need for reform in the health service.

“Reform must be made in the best interests of patients,” she told the Dáil saying that decisions made in the coming months would be crucial to the future direction of the health service.

Later fellow junior health minister, Kathleen Lynch was highly critical of Fianna Fáil shouting at one stage, “the cheek of you” and accusing the opposition of having “brass necks” while stating that she had “every confidence” in the Minister, though not mentioning him by name.

Fianna Fáil’s Dara Calleary noted the contribution of Shortall when he spoke towards the end of the debate, stating:  ”She never mentioned  you once.”

Later the party’s health spokesperson, Billy Kelleher, who proposed the motion also picked up on Shortall’s statement saying that it was “an open letter” to the Minister, later adding: ”You have failed and you have failed fundamentally.”

Last night: Rabbitte rallies to support of Reilly during debate on no confidence motion

About the author:

Hugh O'Connell

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