White gets duties pact with Reilly, but no statutory powers

Minister of state Alex White has secured a pact with Health Minister James Reilly to take control of responsibility in primary care, free GP care, and GP training — but he will have no statutory powers in the areas.

The junior Labour minister’s pact with his Fine Gael senior colleague comes after the resignation of Roisín Shortall, who quit out of frustration working with Dr Reilly.

Separately, the Cabinet yesterday signed off on a delegation of powers order for Mr White but this only gives him statutory control in areas, such as pharmaceuticals and medicines.

Mr White would only have “administrative” responsibility for the areas of primary care and GP care under the written pact, which is separate from the delegation order, a government spokeswoman said.

A similar written pact on “administrative” areas was made with Ms Shortall during her time at the department, the Department of Health also said.

As minister of state, Ms Shortall complained about delays in securing her delegation of powers order, which eventually was signed off on some 18 months after her appointment. However, she never secured statutory powers to oversee primary care, despite this responsibility named in her title as minister of state.

Mr White was appointed as her successor in September but department sources last night dismissed any suggestion that the written pact with the new minister was anything different from that given to Ms Shortall.

A spokesman for Dr Reilly said he and Mr White had held several meetings about the written agreement and that they both had very “positive and co-operative exchanges”.

The spokesman said Mr White’s list of administrative health responsibilities was “slightly longer” than Ms Shortall’s but that Dr Reilly was still the senior minister in the areas.

Earlier, Taoiseach Enda Kenny said there was “no mystery around” the order for Mr White and that the agreement was a “a continuation of officially carrying on the delegation order given to the previous minister of state”.


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