Fine Gael stole our health policy, say Social Democrats

Roisín Shortall discussed 10-year health plan with Simon Harris on Friday night

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Roisin Shortall has accused Simon Harris of stealing the Social Democrats' plans for the health service.

In one of his first interviews since he was appointed Minister for Health in the new Cabinet on Friday, Fine Gael dauphin Simon Harris claimed he had a 10-year plan for the sector.

The 29-year-old, hoisted to the biggest-spending department in the State by Taoiseach Enda Kenny, also said he needed cross-party support for his ideas, and promised to take politics out of the portfolio.

Among the other changes we could see under the Fine Gael plan is: an extension of free GP care to under-12s by the end of this year; and free visits for under-18s within the lifetime of the Government.

Roisin Shortall, co-leader of the Social Democrats, says the plans came from her party, which won three seats in the General Election at its first attempt.

"We have been working on this for the last few weeks, we have a very comprehensive Dáil motion ready to run, we have a majority of TDs signing up to that Dáil motion," she said.

"Imitation is the greatest form of flattery, they say. I was surprised, I smiled when I heard him coming up with this idea, because it's exactly what I had discussed with him on Friday night."