Gilmore backs Reilly over debt


Tánaiste Eamon Gilmore said he has confidence in Minister for Health James Reilly and accepted the statement made to the Dáil last night.

Mr Gilmore was responding to Sinn Féin's justice spokesman Jonathon O'Brien who asked if he had "full confidence in a Minister for Health who is in breach of a High Court order".

"Yes I have confidence in the Minister for Health as I do in all of the Ministers who serve in this Government," Mr Gilmore replied.

During leaders' questions in the Dáil this morning Mr O'Brien said Dr Reilly "has given no indication as to when he will comply with the High Court order" for the repayment of €1.9 million to other investors in the Carrick-on-Suir, Co Tipperary property where a nursing home was located.

He also accused Dr Reilly of contradicting his own register of interests as a TD. In his declaration to the Standards in Public Office Commission, Dr Reilly said he transferred his nursing home interest to a blind trust.

"Yet we now know from the Minister's own mouth last night that that declaration was untrue".

But Ceann Comhairle Seán Barrett said the Dáil was not a court of law and warned the Cork TD "you cannot accuse him of improper behaviour during any parliamentary question" or make an allegation against the Minister when he was not there to defend himself.

Mr O'Brien said however "making a false declaration to Sipo is a very serious matter", but the Ceann Comhairle insisted he could not state the Minister had a false declaration was on what was said in the Dáil last night.

Mr O'Brien said it appeared from the Minister's statement last night that when he took office in March 2011 to January 12th that the Minister was in breach of Sipo guidelines.

He also claimed Dr Reilly had not dispelled concerns about his conflict of interest in having an interest in a nursing home property while "presiding over hundreds of bed closures in the public nursing sector".

Mr Gilmore said the Minister made a statement and he accepted that statement. He said there were procedures for members of the House having private business interests and a requirement that they do not take an active involvement in that business and put it at arm's length.

The Tánaiste said Dr Reilly explained how he had done that and that he had sought the advice of the commission, which was the correct thing to do.

Mr O'Brien said "the facts are that the Minister is attempting to sell his share in a private for profit nursing home at the same time when the decisions he's making are resulting in the closure of public nursing home beds which will have an impact of that share".

He asked: "Tánaiste do you still have full confidence in a Minister who is in breach of a High Court order?"

Mr Gilmore said "you can't have it both ways. You can't on the one hand say he has a conflict of interest and on the order say he's disposing of the interest he has in the property concerned."

He said Dr Reilly informed the House of the efforst he had made to dispose of his interest in the property concerned.

"Yes I have confidence in the Minister for Health as I do in all of the Ministers who serve in this Government."

Fianna Fáil health spokesman called on the Minister to revisit his decision to avoid questions and come to the Dáil this evening or next week to provide further clarification on matters relating to the case.