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News / February 7, 2008

Health Minister scores own goal

by Guy Hiscott

Health Minister Mary Harney is set to visit the Arizona School of Dentistry and Oral Health as part of a week-long a fact-finding trip in the US.

However, the Minister has been widely condemned for taking time out to watch the Super Bowl game between the New York Giants and New England Patriots on Sunday 3 February, especially since the trip clashed with a Fine Gael-sponsored Dáil debate on mental health services. In response to the criticism, a spokesperson said: ‘I’m not altogether sure it’s her favourite sport’ but that her attendance at the Super Bowl was not inappropriate as she was entitled to ‘downtime’.

Fine Gael health spokesman Dr James Reilly told TDs the minister’s absence showed her ‘growing disconnection and disengagement from the health service’.