The Taoiseach has accused opposition parties of engaging in a witch hunt of health minister James Reilly after the fast-tracking of hospital projects in the constituencies of two his ministerial colleagues.
The Wexford General Hospital and Kilkenny building projects were announced by ministers Brendan Howlin and Phil Hogan before the HSE had formally approved the projects.
Sinn Féin has accused the Government of using the hospital budget as a political slush fund for its own electoral purposes.
The Taoiseach said today that opposition parties were engaged in a witch hunt Minister Reilly, and should focus on the outcome of the issue.
He defended the Wexford and Kilkenny projects, saying the Wexford facility was operating from a converted pharmacy while Kilkenny's A and E was operating from a Portakabin.
He said he "understood the politics" of what he called the "persistent witch hunt of Minister Reilly" and other ministers, but said: "It's about time that, instead of having more reports and proposals sitting on shelves with nothing happening, we moved to putting blocks of concrete and facilities in place for the taxpayer."
Meanwhile, Minister Reilly said he made no apologies for taking a "hands-on approach" to dealing with problems in the health service.
He said the two hospitals which were upgraded were in need of improvement.
"Both of these facilities have been on the list for a long- long time," he said.
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