James Reilly: The TD with a GP's baggage

James Reilly, the new Fine Gael TD for Dublin North and party spokesperson on health, has made quite an impression very early. Articulate, analytic, combative, informed, he has been quite the best of Mary Harney's adversaries. He has lots of relevant experience in that he is an experienced GP and a former President of the Irish Medical Organisation (IMO), with some involvement in private medical practices. All of which might become liabilities for him.

The IMO behaved disgracefully in insisting in a fourfold increase in GPs fees for dealing with rich over-seventy clients (this was a stunt inaugurated by Bertie Ahern in the 2002 election campaign) which has resulted in poor areas of the country being denuded of GPs who have migrated to the richer pickings of affluent geriatric areas. His links with private medicine may also prove damaging as greater awareness of the damage private medicine has done to the health of the nation becomes more apparent.