Fianna Fáil Health Spokesperson Billy Kelleher has called on Fine Gael and Labour whips to allow a free vote for the Fianna Fáil motion of confidence in the Health Minister.
Deputy Kelleher commented, “In radio stations and newsrooms across Ireland, Government backbenchers are tripping over each other in an attempt to distance themselves from the healthcare disaster that is unfolding under the stewardship of James Reilly. It is unfortunate that there was none of this concern in evidence when we were warning of the consequences of Minister Reilly’s mismanagement over recent months. In June and July we were trying to force the Taoiseach to take an interest in the mounting crisis, we were shouted down, heckled and laughed at by the assembled ranks of Fine Gael and Labour deputies. Indeed, it now transpires that the Cabinet Health committee gave permission for these cuts as far back as July.
“However, now that the penny has dropped and Government backbenchers are realising what Minister Reilly’s plans mean for their constituencies, I would call on them to have the courage of their convictions and take this opportunity to change the direction in Health.
“I would ask them to consider the words of their Cabinet colleague Minister Jan O’Sullivan. When she was speaking on her party’s behalf during a confidence motion in the Health Minister in 2007, she sought a free vote and said, “‘We’re not going to have a free vote, but I still hope that there will be some within the ranks of the independents or the Fianna Fáil benches who have been happy to engage in whispered criticisms of the Minister in the corridors of Leinster House to live up to the courage of their convictions and do the right thing, do the honourable thing by supporting the Labour Party motion of no confidence in the Minister for Health.” This was at a time when the Fianna Fáil led Government was investing record levels of resources in improving health outcomes.
Deputy Kelleher concluded, “Minister O’Sullivan and her colleagues’ lack of confidence in the Health Minister has been well briefed and is well reported upon. If this opposition is anything more than ‘shape throwing’, we will be looking to the backbenches for support for our motion.”