Since we last spoke in the House, the Minister of State at the Department of Health, Deputy Shortall, has resigned. She gave a very revealing interview on Marian Finucane's radio show at the weekend in which she confirmed everything we have been saying in this House over recent months about work on primary care being blocked and poor management of the health budget, so much so that we are now facing the most appalling cuts because of the Minister's failure to tackle these issues.
The Taoiseach might recall that I asked three weeks ago whether the delegation of ministerial orders had been laid before the House on the former Minister of State's functions. The Taoiseach did not seem to know if they were or not and said he would get back to me. I checked and they were laid before the House in September 2011. What is most revealing is that while they cover medicinal products and the poisons Bill, among other things they excluded completely any reference to primary care. Despite appointing the Minister of State, Deputy Shortall, saying she would have special responsibility for primary care, there is not a mention of primary care. Was it not then that the Taoiseach, the Tánaiste and their Cabinet colleagues ditched and isolated the Minister of State? She was not given statutory delegation for primary care and despite knowing from freedom of information requests that she had sought it on a number of occasions, it fell on deaf ears. Who excluded primary care from her delegated statutory authority as Minister of State?
The Minister of State met the Tánaiste and the Taoiseach during the summer to resolve this issue, and the suggestion was that a summer holiday might sort it out. We know the Minister of State had deep reservations about the Minister's performance that went beyond the added primary care centres. They went to the core of the implementation of the programme for Government itself.