Links to Reilly adviser clarified

Wed, Oct 10, 2012, 01:00

A COMPANY which has a contract with the Health Service Executive for providing home help services has stressed it is not owned by a firm which was advised by a senior aide to Minister for Health James Reilly in the recent past.

On Monday the Department of Health confirmed that one of Dr Reilly’s special advisers, Maureen Windle, had been an adviser to Sodexo Zehnacker Ireland Limited. The Department of Health said this had been a paid position. A spokesman for the Minister said that 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.

In a statement responding to a story in yesterday’s Irish Times on Ms Windle’s former employment, 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.

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.

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 that it had never had any dealings with Ms Windle.

A statement was also issued on behalf of Sodexo Zehnacker and Sodexo Ireland which emphasised that Maureen Windle “was employed as an external consultant for Sodexo Zehnacker Healthcare Ireland in 2010. She has not worked for the company since then.”

The statement added: “Sodexo Zehnacker Healthcare Ireland is part of Sodexo UK and Ireland while the Comfort Keepers name is owned by Sodexo in the US. There is no connection between Sodexo Zehnacker Healthcare Ireland and Comfort Keepers in Ireland.”

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