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Harney unacceptable as Health Minister – Ó Caoláin

12 June, 2007

The new Dáil must prioritise the transformation of the healthcare system based on equity and efficiency, Sinn Féin Dáil leader Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin has stated. The Cavan-Monaghan Deputy also stated that acting PD leader Mary Harney would be "totally unacceptable" as Minister for Health and Children in the new Cabinet.

Speaking ahead of the first meeting of the 30th Dáil in Leinster House on Thursday 14 June, Deputy Ó Caoláin said his party was "focussed on the issues that must be tackled by whichever combination of parties takes office".

He said, "As the Dáil assembles this Thursday the shape of a new administration is not yet clear. Sinn Féin is focussed on the issues which must be tackled by whichever combination of parties takes office. First and foremost among those issues is our healthcare system.

"The new Dáil must prioritise healthcare and it must begin a genuine transformation of the system into one truly based on equity and efficiency. The people who voted in sufficient numbers to ensure that Fianna Fáil would remain in the driving seat must be some of the same people who in every opinion poll have stated that the dire condition of our health services is their priority issue.

"Fianna Fáil does not have a mandate to continue with the failed health policies, including hospital privatisation, fronted by the PDs in the outgoing government, but fully backed by Fianna Fáil itself.

"The return of Mary Harney as Minister for Health & Children would be totally unacceptable to the vast majority of people. It would signal the acceleration of privatisation. We would be faced with the scandal of a Government allocating public land and public money to privateers to build for-profit hospitals while at the same time they take services away from existing public hospitals.

"The fight to restore services at Monaghan General Hospital, to provide the resources so badly needed at Cavan General Hospital, and to resist the proposed decimation of hospital services in the North East region overall, must and will be continued with renewed resolve.

"The new Government must make a renewed commitment to our local hospitals. They must admit that the centralisation policy has failed miserably. It has cost lives and communities the length and breadth of this country demand and have a right to hospital services delivered locally. Sinn Féin in the new Dáil will be making that demand as loudly and clearly as ever." ENDS

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