Martin challenges Kenny to debate on Seanad

Tuesday 17 September 2013 19.31
Micheál Martin said the Constitutional Convention could have facilitated debate on the Seanad
Micheál Martin said the Constitutional Convention could have facilitated debate on the Seanad

Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin has challenged Taoiseach Enda Kenny to a debate on the Seanad referendum.

Mr Martin said he was "extremely disappointed" with the Taoiseach's comments on RTÉ's Morning Ireland, where Mr Kenny suggested that the matter can be debated solely in the Dáil.

Mr Martin said Mr Kenny "disingenuously suggested there could be debate on this in the Dáil, when he knows full well that there can't be and there won't be".

He added: "The idea that Leaders' Questions, which is two minutes for the Opposition and three minutes for the Taoiseach, somehow constitutes a head-on debate on the future of the Seanad, I think is a joke, and it's insulting the intelligence of the public."

The Fianna Fáil leader said the Constitutional Convention could have facilitated debate on the issue.

The second and final day of the Fianna Fáil party gathering, ahead of the new Dáil season, concluded this lunchtime in Waterford.

Future election strategy and pre-Budget proposals were also up for discussion.

Health Spokesperson Billy Kelleher said Minister for Health James Reilly is "incapable of managing the health service" and a Cabinet reshuffle "cannot come soon enough".

Mr Kelleher was reacting to a statement from Mr Reilly, where he said there was a serious demographic issue to deal with.

Mr Kelleher said: "This time last year we said that Minister Reilly was incapable of managing the health service. Clearly his statement today shows that he is completely out of his depth.

"The disappointing thing out of all of this is that patients are suffering. We now have a situation where we have increased waiting lists, people waiting for procedures and the sickest people in society are unable to get medical cards."

The Cork North Central TD said that if the minister cannot manage a budget, "there will be fire brigade action at the tail end of the year and patients will suffer".

He said it was a "glib response" for the minister to say he will be a few euro over budget as services will whittle away and people will suffer.

When asked if he felt there is a two-tier structure in Cabinet where Labour ministers meet their budgets and some Fine Gael ministers have budget overruns, Mr Kelleher said: "It's a bit like animal farm. Some ministers are more equal than others.

"Clearly Fine Gael ministers do hold the whip hand but on this occasion, I think that Minister Reilly is incapable of keeping within budget in the first place.

"Last year he set out his stall and he has not delivered the services that he promised."