Health Minister Stephen Donnelly has expressed a desire to stay in the job after the next cabinet reshuffle.
Leo Varadkar is due to replace Micheál Martin as Taoiseach in December and the coalition leaders will then play a game of musical chairs with ministers.
Several Fianna Fáil TDs have privately said that they are unhappy with Mr Donnelly’s performance and expressed hope that he would be replaced - with Mayo TD Dara Calleary seen as a serious contender.
Talking to Newstalk, Minister Donnelly said that it was “no secret” that he would like to continue as Minister for Health, describing the job as “the greatest professional honour of my life”.
When asked if he thought if he was doing a good job, he replied:
“I think the healthcare system is doing a good job. I think our doctors, our nurses, our therapists, people working in the HSE have done an incredible job.”
'Nobody’s going to say it’s an easy job'
However, among healthcare workers there was less enthusiasm; figures recently released to Newstalk revealed that 7,300 physical, verbal or sexual assaults on healthcare staff have been reported to the HSE in the last 18 months.
It is, one staff member said, an incredibly difficult time to be a healthcare worker:
“He [Minister Donnelly] has to be here for a shift to understand what actually goes on,” he said wearily.
“And see that Emergency Department and the general wards - what we have to put up with, you know?”
While another said he did not think it made any difference who was Minister for Health:
“I don’t have much of a personal opinion about the Minister for Health,” he said.
“I’d say he has done as much of a job as any Minister for Health as we have had in previous years.
“Nobody’s going to say it’s an easy job to do and I don’t know if a reshuffle would make things any better.
“At least when someone’s in the job they have more of a chance to do things. If we reshuffle or get a new minister they’re going to… start from scratch.
“So I don’t think it’s going to make much of a difference regardless if there’s a new or old Minister for Health.”
The view from Bray
Out in his Wicklow constituency, his neighbours were more positive about his performance:
“He is good but not as good as [his predecessor] Simon Harris was in health,” one woman opined.
“I think he should stay on a while and maybe get some things done but I would like to see if Simon Harris could get that position back.
“I think we’d get a lot more done and quicker.”
She gave him a mark of six out of 10.
“He’s done as well as he could,” another man asserted.
“I’d give him an 8 [out of 10].”
While another woman was impressed with his performance during the pandemic and said:
“There’s nothing negative that went on in his reign and I hope he still reigns.”
She scored his performance as nine out of 10.
Main image: Stephen Donnelly arriving at Dublin Castle for a meeting of the Cabinet. Picture by: Sasko Lazarov / RollingNews.ie