Thursday, 7 February 2019
Ceisteanna ó Cheannairí - Leaders' Questions
Is that credible? Is it credible that such information has been floating around at Secretary General level and was not passed on? What does it say to the Minister about relationships at the heart of the Government and those within the Department of Health? Until now we have heard the Fine Gael defence - a backstop defence, if you will - which has been repeated with absolute discipline. We now need to hear a different view. This is the chance of the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs to put her stamp on the controversy. Is she comfortable, as a Minister, with the manner in which the issue has been handled? We all agree that we want to see the project delivered, but it cannot continue to be delivered in the manner in which it is being carried out. We have had a drip drip of information and seen the undermining of collective Cabinet responsibility, while thousands of nurses are on strike today. GPs were on strike yesterday. There will be more strikes. Will the Minister bring some sense and perspective to the debate? As she is known as a straight talker, she should talk straight on this issue. Does she accept that the information was not shared at senior Government level? When was she, as a member of the Cabinet, made aware of the cost overruns in the Department of Health? Can she understand the frustration of the thousands of nurses who are picketing today at being lectured by the Minister for Health, Deputy Harris, about the need for fiscal responsibility? He said meeting the nurses' pay demands would cause a spiral in the public finances. He was asleep at the wheel and is now lecturing people about the need for fiscal responsibility. Can the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs understand the frustration in that regard?