Minister for Health James Reilly has said it is insulting to the people of Swords and Balbriggan to claim that the only way they can secure badly needed health facilities is through stroke politics.

He was responding to weekend claims by his former junior minister Roisin Shortall, who challenged his suitability for the job of Health Minister.

Mr Reilly said the health facility at the centre of the row had been approved by the board of the HSE.

Asked whether he had been damaged by the row, he said he came into politics to do a job – that he wanted to change the health services and had succeeded in making many improvements.

He denied he departed from the Programme for Government, insisting no minister was more committed than he was to health reform.

Asked had he made mistakes in his dealings with Ms Shortall, he said that the man who never made mistakes never made anything.

However, he said he did not understand what her motivation was for her outspoken comments.