Reilly’s ‘it wasn’t me’ defence doesn’t stack up – Kelleher

Published on: 07 September 2012

Fianna Fáil Spokesperson on Health Billy Kelleher has said it is incredible that the Minister for Health James Reilly would seek to shift blame onto the HSE for his wrong-headed decision to cut services for patients with disabilities.
“Minister Reilly’s ‘it wasn’t me’ defence is not only totally implausible, it is an insult to patients and the wider public,” said Deputy Kelleher.
“Since the beginning of this controversy, Minister Reilly has sought to hide behind the HSE for his own political decisions. This latest tactic of blaming the HSE, which he controls, for cuts to personal assistants is nothing more than a desperate attempt to save his own skin.  It’s also ironic, given his recent claims that the HSE had been abolished.
“Let’s look at the facts. On Thursday last week the HSE announced cutbacks of €130 million, targeting home help hours, home care packages and personal assistant hours. The day after, Minister Reilly spoke to journalists briefly and made no attempt to clarify any ‘mistake’ in the announcement. Instead, he reached for the ‘trust me, I’m a doctor’ defence.
“That weekend, the Minister’s appointee as Director General of HSE Tony O’Brien told RTE that the decision was made ‘at governmental level’. The Labour Party Chairman and Government backbenchers then spent the next two days attempting to distance themselves from the impact of cuts to Personal Assistants & other supports for disabled patients. Again, Minister Reilly made no attempt to clarify any so-called misunderstanding.
“The news of these cutbacks caused extreme distress to hundreds of patients, their families and carers across the country. If the cut to PAs was never due to happen, why did Minister Reilly stay silent for nearly a week while chaos erupted all around him? Why did the Taoiseach congratulate him for his ‘courageous’ u-turn, if there was no cut to reverse in the first place?
“It has never been clearer that Minister Reilly has no control over his Department and must go. If his total lack of leadership and his budget blundering wasn’t enough; if his refusal to consult senior colleagues and his failure to communicate with the public wasn’t enough; if his attack on disabled and elderly patients wasn’t enough; perhaps his attempts to claim innocence is a step too far even for the Minister’s own colleagues. I am again appealing to the Labour Party to stop sitting on the fence and to clarify if they have confidence in Minister Reilly.”

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