herald

Tuesday 24 October 2017

Reilly loses out on
major smoking and obesity role

HE has just left the Health Department, and it seems Children's Minister James Reilly will only have a minor role with policies on tackling obesity and cigarettes.

The minister won't have direct responsibility for public health, and none of those functions will be moving with him.

Health Minister Leo Varadkar is understood to have been opposed to having elements of his department moved - and has won the battle.

When Dr Reilly was moved from the Department of Health to the Department of Children, a range of areas of public health policy were supposed to move with him.

Taoiseach Enda Kenny is believed to have been in favour of the move as it put a sweetener on his demotion from the Department of Health.

Dr Reilly himself spoke last week about officials meeting to discuss "the most appropriate parts to bring to the Department of Children and Youth Affairs".

However, Dr Reilly overstepped the mark and will not be getting complete control of the area or taking it with him.

Instead, he will just be involved in policy development and publicity around childhood obesity and anti-tobacco policy.

appropriate

But these two areas will remain a part of the public health unit in the Department of Health, which also covers fitness, vaccinations and 
immunisation.

"The functions are to stay in the Department of Health. Contrary to what he told the Oir-
eachtas committee last week, all legislative functions will stay in the department," a department source said.

Dr Reilly was involved in campaigns around childhood obesity and reducing smoking, including the introduction of plain cigarette packaging.

Last week, the minister told the Oireachtas Health and Children Committee that senior officials from both departments were meeting to decide on "the most appropriate parts" to bring over. But Dr Reilly will not be given full control.

hnews@herald.ie

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