Firm says it has no link to Reilly aide

Tue, Oct 9, 2012, 01:00

A company which has a contract with the HSE for providing home help services has said it is not owned by a firm to which a senior aide to Minister for Health James Reilly acted as an advisor until last year.

Comfort Keepers Ireland said it was the trade name of Elder Home Care Limited which was owned by Elder Healthcare Group Limited and Wadelai Investments Limited whose proprietors were Irish residents.

However the company said it had a licence to use the name Comfort Keepers since 2005 from a company named CK Franchising Inc.

Since 2009 CK Franchising Inc has been owned by a multinational organisation called Sodexo Zehnacker. CK Franchising is the master franchisor of Comfort Keepers in the US.

Yesterday the Department of Health confirmed that one of Dr Reilly’s special advisors, Maureen Windle, had been an advisor to Sodexo Zehnacker Ireland Limited until last year.

The Department of Health said this had been a paid position.

However a spokesman for the Minister said Ms Windle’s role with Sodexo Zehnacker had no bearing whatsoever in the tendering process in the HSE in relation to the home care sector.

Comfort Keepers in Ireland said it was a 100 per cent Irish family-owned business and that Sodexo Zehnacker or any of its entities had no ownership stake, beneficial or otherwise with it.

Comfort Keepers Ireland said it had never had any dealings with Ms Windle.

Yesterday a campaign group which is opposing planned home help cuts called on the Minister to clarify the business relationship between Ms Windle and Sodexo Zehnacker.