FF figure leads group tipped to win Swords care centre contract

Sat, Oct 6, 2012, 01:00

THE GROUP tipped to win the contract to build a controversial primary care centre in Minister for Health James Reilly’s constituency in Swords is led by a Fianna Fáil organiser.

Builder Jim Donlon is one of five members of the Ardruim Partnership, which is in advanced negotiations with the Health Service Executive to build the centre in the north Dublin town.

Mr Donlon was appointed by former minister for transport Pat Carey to the board of the National Roads Authority in the last days in power of the Fianna Fáil government in March 2011. He had recently completed his term on the board. He has served as a constituency director for Mr Carey in Dublin North West, the same constituency represented by former minister of state Róisín Shortall.

The location of primary care centres has been the subject of intense controversy since it was revealed that Dr Reilly added 15 towns, including Swords and Balbriggan, to a priority list drawn up by Ms Shortall. She has since resigned, accusing Dr Reilly of “stroke politics”.

It has since emerged that the land on which the Balbriggan centre is to be built is owned by a long-time Fine Gael supporter.

Mr Donlon said last night he did not know Dr Reilly and had never lobbied him in relation to the site. “I’m of a different persuasion anyway. He had no contact with us nor us with him. We were on good relations with our local neighbours and didn’t need to lobby politicians,” he said.

Another member of the partnership, architect Francis Whelan, said he knew Dr Reilly as he was a former president of the Fingal chamber of commerce but he was not a supporter of or donor to the Minister.

The site on Church Road has a long planning history, with previous applications to build houses and a shopping centre. Last year, permission was granted for the construction of a nursing home and primary care unit, along with a pharmacy and other retail units.

Ardruim first submitted plans for a centre in late 2010 but the HSE asked for them to be expanded to accommodate two primary care teams. Revised plans were submitted last August. The site is near a HSE health centre.

Clarington Primary Care is also seeking to win the contract with the HSE for a primary care centre on a site beside the Swiftcare clinic in the Airside Retail Park.

A third submission, from the owners of a local nursing home, proposes building a primary care centre on land outside the town.