Enda Kenny has denounced Ireland’s health system as deeply unfair.
Opening the Fine Gael ard fheis, the party leader said it was “repugnant” that people in a republic get medical treatment on the basis of their wealth rather than their health.
“Of course the current system of public/private care is not just inefficient - it is deeply unfair,” he admitted.
“It’s hard to believe that just two years before we commemorate the centenary of 1916, too often too many of our people are treated not on the basis of medical need but on the basis of income.
“On the basis of whether or not they can afford private health insurance.
“A basis that is and should be repugnant to the people of a still-young republic.”
Focusing most of his opening remarks to push the party’s plans for what he claimed would be the most radical reform of healthcare since the foundation of the State, he reiterated a vow to bring in universal health insurance within five years.
Under the scheme everyone in the country will have health insurance which will cover GP care and “everyone will be treated the same”.
“We have looked at many other countries, we are taking their successes and creating our own Irish model,” said the Taoiseach.
The Taoiseach also said the findings of a report into the deaths of four children in Portlaoise will be implemented immediately.
He said that the report from the chief medical officer Tony Holohan, makes for grim reading.
The Taoiseach paid tribute to the Health Minister James Reilly for his handling of the situation, and promised that the problems in Portlaoise won't happen again.
"All 11 recommendations in the report are accepted, and they are being implimented, from today," he said.
"It will help to ensure that this will never happen again. It should not have happened at all.
"It will ensure that Ireland will continue to be recognised as one of the safest countries in the world to give birth to children."
Mr Kenny also used his address at the start of the party gathering at the RDS in Dublin to rally troops ahead of the upcoming local and European elections.
Just 98 of 449 Fine Gael candidates for the local elections are women.
“This means that Fine Gael will have more women candidates than any other party in this election,” said Mr Kenny.