Fianna Fáil Spokesperson on Health Billy Kelleher has accused the Taoiseach of showing utter contempt for the Dáil and called on him to simply explain what role Mr. John Fitzgerald is playing in the Government’s review of the new National Children’s Hospital.
Deputy Kelleher said: “Like so much else that has been entrusted to Health Minister James Reilly, the question of where a new Children’s Hospital will be located is quickly descending into farce. First we learn that the Tánaiste Eamon Gilmore has launched his own process to second guess the decision of James Reilly. Next, RTÉ break the news at midnight that there is to be a new stage to the selection process led John Fitzgerald, a member of the HSE Board that James Reilly summarily disbanded.
“By morning, the Government PR machine had gone into overdrive, with journalists being briefed that Mr Fitzgerald’s appointment was to help the Government avoid unnecessary planning problems. Nothing to see here. Unfortunately, this story also unravelled when The Department of Health then told thejournal.ie that there was no review and that John Fitzgerald was not involved in the process.
“What on earth is going on here? The only thing that is clear so far is that James Reilly is at the centre of another Government mess and that, inexplicably, the Taoiseach continues to sacrifice his own credibility to protect the Minister.
“The Taoiseach was asked a very simple question yesterday – whether or not any new individual or organisation was involved in the selection process for the Children’s Hospital. In his answer there was no mention of John Fitzgerald or anyone else. When he was confronted with the news of the John Fitzgerald involvement this morning, he showed utter contempt for the Dáil and refused to give a straight answer – relying instead on the jeering and shouting of his backbenchers to drown out the debate.
“Fianna Fáil is not asking the Taoiseach to reveal state secrets here. We are asking basic questions that the public has a right to know the answers to. What is going on with Minister James Reilly and the Department of Health when something as simple as consideration of the Dolphin Report and a decision on where to site the hospital causes such confusion and political conflict?
“The most unfortunate element of this saga is the ongoing delay to a critical project being caused by the dysfunction at the top of the Department of Health. We need a clear and straightforward explanation from Government of what process has been engaged since the Dolphin Report was presented to Minister Reilly in early June.”