Reilly did not select list, says Gilmore
TÁNAISTE EAMON Gilmore revealed that two senior health officials had assured him Dr James Reilly was not involved in the allocation of primary care centres in his Dublin North constituency.
“I read newspaper reports this morning and met the Minister, his department’s secretary general and the new CEO of the HSE,” Mr Gilmore said.
“They told me that there had been no ministerial involvement of any kind in the selection of individual sites for primary care centres.” Mr Gilmore said he had agreed with the increase in the number of centres from 20 to 35 and the rationale for it.
“My primary concern was that we had a good stimulus package and it maximised the amount of input into the economy and the creations of jobs,” he added.
The Tánaiste was replying to Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin, who said the saga of the selection of the centres, particularly in north Co Dublin, continued unabated. The more the Minister for Health endeavoured to explain himself, the greater the number of questions that needed to be answered. The situation could be sorted out if all of the advices and documentation were published, he said.
Mr Gilmore said that, in any event, documentation was available publicly under the freedom of information system. “I would have no difficulty with making documentation available,” he added.
Describing the response as “extraordinary”, Mr Martin said the Tánaiste should not say that they must depend on the freedom of information. He was asking Mr Gilmore, as deputy leader of the Government, to see to it that all the documentation would be published in the next couple of days. “I do not want secretaries general stating correspondence with Ministers is confidential,” he added.
Mr Martin accused Mr Gilmore of abandoning former minister of state Róisín Shortall, consulting with Dr Reilly and agreeing to “divvy up the process for whatever reasons, be it political expediency or constituency reasons”.
Mr Gilmore said Mr Martin was the architect of the HSE. “He was in the government at a time when there was money in this country and he allowed the health system to deteriorate,” he added.
Mr Martin replied: “Are we to blame for the former minister of state, deputy Shortall, resigning on the Tánaiste’s watch and without his support?”
Mr Gilmore said the Government was reforming the health service at a time when less money was available and fewer staff.
“Our priority is to shift the primary care in our health system, and this is not just a matter of writing it down in a programme for government or a document,” he added.
Sinn Féin deputy leader Mary Lou McDonald said Wednesday’s statement by Dr Reilly had answered none of the key questions.
She added that the criteria for the selection of centres were fixed, as the Tánaiste knew, “and stroke politics was at the heart of the Government”.
Mr Gilmore said it was no secret that there were differences between Ms Shortall and Dr Reilly. At all times, he had supported Ms Shortall in what she was seeking to do in the department.
He added that he was no more involved in the criteria for how the centres were selected “than I was involved in the criteria that were used in the Department of Education for the selection of schools or the criteria that were used in the Department of Transport for the selection of roads”.
Ms McDonald claimed there was a predetermined outcome to the matter and the criteria were fixed to achieve that.