Health Chief Magee Quits
The now former chief executive of the Health Service Executive (HSE) Cathal Magee (Photocall)
The chief executive of the Health Service Executive (HSE) Cathal Magee has quit less than two years into his job.
The announcement of his resignation came as the Health Minister James Reilly announced that the HSE will cease to exist in 2014.
Meanwhile, there were indications of strains between the two government coalition parties as it emerged that Labour Party ministers including Tanaiste Eamon Gilmore were not informed of Mr Magee's departure by their cabinet colleague, but instead learned of it through media reports.
Dr Reilly denied putting pressure on Mr Magee to leave the job, saying it was the HSE chief's decision and his alone.
Mr Magee said he had no interest in being part of the new structure being put in place by Dr Reilly, which sees the responsibility for the running of the health service returning to the Department of Health.
"I came into a CEO's job. The new role will see the vote moving back to the department, and the Minister, and the department will take hands-on, day-to- day responsibility," said Mr Magee.
The health chief waived any right to compensation for the remaining three years of his contract and has promised to assist in ensuring a smooth transition to the new structure.
The departure of Mr Magee comes at time when the IMF have criticized the Dept of Health for failing to bring spending under control.
Further cuts in health services are expected in next year's budget to be announced in December.
As the government prepared to take its summer holidays, the handling of Mr Magee's departure exposed tensions between the coalition partners.
Junior health minister Roisin Shorthall and Tanaiste Eamon Gilmore revealed that the Health Minister James Reilly had not informed them of Mr Magee's decision before they heard about it on RTE radio.
"It is regrettable that the information leaked out in the way it did," said Mr Gilmore. "I spoke with James Reilly about it. I am confident it is unlikely it will arise again."
At a joint press conference with Mr Gilmore aimed at highlighting the government's achievements over the last Dail term, Taoiseach Enda Kenny maintained that the relationship was still solid.
"There's a very strong professional relationship between both parties in government, between the Tánaiste and myself, between the Tánaiste and all the Ministers, and between the Taoiseach and all the Ministers. There's no need for over-reaction," he said.