Limerick Minister O’Sullivan insists Labour supported Shortall

Nick Rabbitts

Reporter:

Nick Rabbitts

HOUSING Minister Jan O’Sullivan has insisted the higher echelons of the Labour party did stand up for Roisin Shortall before her resignation.

HOUSING Minister Jan O’Sullivan has insisted the higher echelons of the Labour party did stand up for Roisin Shortall before her resignation.

Ms Shortall resigned as Junior Health Minister last week over what she saw as a lack of support on public health reforms.

Sources close to the Dublin TD said she felt “badly let down” over a lack of support in her disagreement with senior colleague, Fine Gael Health Minister Dr James Reilly.

But speaking at a drugs conference at the Greenhills Hotel - which ironically was supposed to be opened by Ms Shortall - Ms O’Sullivan, filling in for her, said she believed “considerable support” was given.

“I don’t believe they failed to stand up for her. I believe she got considerable support from Eamon Gilmore and senior ministers. I have seen evidence of that,” she said.

Ms O’Sullivan voiced her disappointment over her party colleague’s resignation.

“I worked very closely with Roisin, and saw how committed and determined she was to carry out her job with regard to implementing the primary care elements of the programme for government,” she added.

Meanwhile, Ms O’Sullivan added she has a “very good” working relationship with her departmental colleague, Fine Gael’s Environment Minister Phil Hogan.

This comes in spite of her expressing misgivings over his sending of a letter to his constituents stating a traveller family would not be allocated a house in Bonnettstown.

The row carried echoes of Ms Shortall’s falling-out with Dr Reilly.

But Ms O’Sullivan played this down, saying: “I have a very good working relation with Minister Hogan. We had a meeting in the department on Thursday morning in relation to the budgetary challenges we face. I argue the case for the sections in the department I am responsible for, and we work together in terms of delivering our goals.”

She confirmed she had met with Mr Hogan on that matter, but declined to comment on how he reacted.

“I have already stated publicly the naming of the family was not appropriate. I think maybe he feels like this now. But it is a matter for him to say on. It is pretty much as is already in the public arena. A letter was issued from his office, I said I would not have written such a letter,” she concluded.