Sinn Féin Health spokesperson Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin TD has called for the immediate publication by Health Minister James Reilly of the White Paper on Universal Health Insurance which, Deputy Ó Caoláin says, is now the subject of a "war of leaks" between Ministers Reilly and Howlin.
Deputy Ó Caoláin said:
"A war of leaks between Ministers Reilly and Howlin has erupted in the media over the White Paper on Universal Health Insurance. We have the extraordinary sight of one Government Minister accusing another of putting forward a plan that would pose a risk to the State's financial stability.
"This is supposed to be a cornerstone of Government policy and the White Paper was promised early in the life of the Government. The last promised publication date was 2013 but we have still not seen it.
"The contents of the White Paper have now been extensively leaked to sections of the media while Oireachtas members and the people are left in the dark.
"Our health services are in crisis and plans for their future must be fully and openly debated - not the subject of a dog-fight between rival Ministers in Government.
"The Fine Gael-Labour concept of Universal Health Insurance based on competing private insurance companies is one that we in Sinn Féin have criticised as fundamentally flawed. We have also criticised the lack of detail about the coalition's plan and we have been vindicated in that.
"The White Paper on Universal Health Insurance should be published immediately so everyone can judge for themselves and so we can have a real debate focussed on the needs of health service users."