Minister James Reilly: Behind The Laughter

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In the beginning of his tenure, Health Minister James Reilly pricked the ironic funny bone of a nation with his often absurd approach to his department’s expenditure.

With the closing of each austerity budget’s curtain, the laughter soon turned to skepticism and for many, trepidation.  Fast forward to the the Minister’s current situation at the fallout of last week’s budget and only one thing remains certain about this otherwise scatter brained man; no one is laughing anymore.

The former junior Minister Roisin Shorthall quite rightly never seen the funny side to Minister Reilly’s farcical implementations. Her resignation last September after a number of Reilly’s measures, including the disproportionate allocation of funds to hospitals in his jurisdiction, prompted a number of TD’s to the opinion that: “the wrong Minister has resigned today.”

Backed irrefutably by public opinion, why is it then that Government insist on giving the Health Minister chance after chance? He has breached a threshold that any employer would have seen fit to cut loose a long time ago, yet this week colleagues such as Justice Minister Alan Shatter continued to defend Reilly’s preposterous reign.

The HSE’s expenditure is forecast to yet again run above their allocation, to an inexorable €150 million by the end of the year. In addition nearly €670 million in cuts are to be made to the health sector alone. Adding brimstone to that already raging fire, was the bleak reality that this may rise to a staggering €1 billion, if factors such as the reduction of doctor’s hours came to fruition.

Yet rather than quell his department’s hemorrhaging of money by implementing budget cuts to the few fortunate to have money in our country, the Minister has once again vehemently targeted the vulnerable where it hurts them most; their medical cards.

The only balancing tool with which to show some light at the end of the tunnel, was the free G.P care for children under five, something which Dr.Reilly promised would extend to all members of the public by 2016. Not that we believe anything that ever comes out of his mouth, but this promise was made all the more comical, when one of his own Junior Ministers, Kathyleen Lynch, said she believed the extension of the free G.P care beyond under five’s would not be likely during this Government’s lifetime.

So once again his own department have questioned the incredulous promises that The Health Minister has been throwing at his public since day one. It now seems that both Taosieach and Tanaiste will be dragged in to play babysitter for Dr.Reilly in order to  make sure he adheres to his targets set forth in last week’s budget.

While it was a bit rich of opposition leader Michael Martin to call for the Minister’s resignation (the man who concocted the untamable beast that is the HSE during his own term in office), others cannot stand idly by whilst James Reilly continues to thrust the sword of Damocles into the hearts of our nation’s most vulnerable.

Nothing short of his resignation is required this time around. Woe betide the person who inherits  the situation Dr.Reilly would leave his post in.

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