Gilmore defends Reilly role
Tánaiste Eamon Gilmore has said he has been told Minister for Health James Reilly had no involvement in the selection of two sites for primary care centres in his Dublin North constituency.
“I met earlier today with Minister Reilly, the secretary general of the Department of Health and the new CEO of the HSE and they have told me directly that there was no ministerial involvement of any kind in the selection of any individual site for a primary care centre,’’ Mr Gilmore told the Dáil this afternoon.
Mr Gilmore said decision had been taken to increase the number of centres from 20 to 35. “I was consulted about that; I did agree to that,’’ he added.
“I agreed with the rationale for that and my primary concern was that we had a good stimulus package and that it maximised the amount of input that there would be to the economy and the creation of jobs.’’
Dr Reilly has repeatedly rejected any suggestion of impropriety in the selection of a site for a new primary care centre in his constituency. He has also defended his relationship with a local developer, Séamus Murphy, after it emerged that the proposed centre in Balbriggan is due to be built on land owned by the north Dublin businessman.
However, Dr Reilly was later forced to admit to the Dáil yesterday that he had provided incorrect information by claiming the decision on the location of the Balbriggan centre had been taken during the lifetime of the previous government.
Labour Minister for Education Ruairí Quinn was said to be incensed yesterday after he misled the Dáil with information provided by Dr Reilly’s department. Sources said he was “not prepared to take the fall” for another Minister’s mistake.
The controversy has increased tensions within the Coalition, with two Labour MEPs calling on the Minister to resign yesterday.
Fianna Fáil leader Micheal Martin said today the answers to what had happened kept on changing, and he urged Mr Gilmore to agree to the publication of all documentation on the matter.
Mr Gilmore said documentation was available, in any event, under the Freedom of Information system. “I don’t have any difficulty with the making available of documentation,’’ he added.
Sinn Féin deputy leader Mary Lou McDonald said none of the key questions had been answered.
Earlier Minister for Children Frances Fitzgerald defended Dr Reilly and said she was confident once all details emerge people will accept that he has done nothing wrong.
She conceded that the details “may not seem clear now” but said this would change. “There is no personal gain for him. There is no impropriety in relation to the lease, the land, the particular site we’re discussing today. That will emerge more and more as the details of the decision making around that emerge,” Ms Fitzgerald said.
“I would be very confident that once the details around that particular decision emerge that it would be understood by people and it will be accepted.”
Ms Fitzgerald said there was an “extremely tough” job to be done in the Department of Health and Dr Reilly was leading the reform programme. “That’s what I would like to see the focus on obviously.”