Gilmore insists no lack of trust in Reilly


THE GOVERNMENT struggled last night to play down talk about a breakdown of trust between Tánaiste Eamon Gilmore and Minister for Health James Reilly over the location of the new national children’s hospital.

The Government and senior Ministers consistently denied yesterday there was a rift between the Coalition partners on the issue as a crucial meeting on the hospital scheduled for early last week slipped further behind deadline.

Mr Gilmore’s spokeswoman denied suggestions the delay was related to his decision to ask his advisers to conduct research into the various alternative locations.

The media was told Dr Reilly was not aware of the Tánaiste’s “information-gathering” exercise. This was a reference to a newspaper report that the Labour Party leader was conducting his own assessment of the various sites and would not simply be accepting the Minister for Health’s advice on the matter.

The meeting between Mr Gilmore, Dr Reilly and Taoiseach Enda Kenny must take place before the Cabinet’s final decision on the site for the hospital.

Last night the Taoiseach’s spokesman gave no date for the rescheduled meeting and could not say what had caused the further delay. Mr Kenny told the Dáil yesterday the hospital decision would be made within two weeks.

Initially the Government said last night that neither the Taoiseach nor the Tánaiste has seen or requested a copy of the Dolphin report, the key document assessing the merits of the main sites in contention.

The report was concluded four months ago but has yet to be discussed by Cabinet.

However, the Tánaiste’s spokeswoman last night said Mr Gilmore had been briefed on the initial assessment of the Dolphin group by members of the group last June. She said a further briefing on the report would be given ahead of the Cabinet decision.

Mr Gilmore insisted yesterday there was no question of any lack of trust between the Labour Party and Dr Reilly. He said it was not unusual for him to seek information on the location of the new children’s hospital or any other matter that would involve a Government decision.

“There is trust. There’s no question of any lack of trust. This is about making sure that we make the best decision in the interests of the public . . . I’m not approaching this issue any different to any other major issue that has to be decided by Government,” he said.

“There’s no parallel report. There’s one report that will be presented to Government: that’s the Dolphin report. But in assessing that report I will always make sure that I am fully informed,” he said.

Fianna Fáil spokesman on health Billy Kelleher said the development betrayed a lack of trust in Government.

“It is obvious that the Tánaiste is no longer willing to take the Minister for Health at his word. Quite simply, the Tánaiste no longer has confidence in him. This situation is simply untenable,” he said.

Sinn Féin’s Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin said the incident would lead to further delays.

The Dolphin report did not rank the different locations but left it up to Dr Reilly to make a recommendation to Cabinet.