SF provokes anger with claim of Reilly 'corruption'
A claim by Sinn Féin deputy leader Mary Lou McDonald that Minister for Health James Reilly acted corruptly in the allocation of primary care centres led to a furious Dáil row.
Ms McDonald said Dr Reilly had engaged in “sharp, corrupt practices” in the inclusion of a site in Balbriggan, in his Dublin North constituency, in the list of proposed primary healthcare centres.
Describing the allegation as “outrageous”, Dr Reilly challenged Ms McDonald to make the claim outside of the House where it would not be covered by Dáil privilege. Tánaiste Eamon Gilmore said Sinn Féin’s way was to wave a paper around, claim that it had the goods on people and then make all kinds of allegations, including of sharp, corrupt practices.
Freedom of Information
“You have a neck,” Mr Gilmore said. “Sinn Féin . . . you know, so much illegal activity. How many bodies are buried on this island because of Sinn Féin?”
Ms McDonald said that according to information supplied through a Freedom of Information request, it had emerged that the Balbriggan site had been discussed at a meeting between Dr Reilly and Nama. The site, she said, was owned by a Fine Gael party supporter, Séamus Murphy, and was to be developed by party donor AJ Noonan. It had also been used by the Minister as an election office.
Ms McDonald said the Minister was well aware that his Fine Gael party colleagues were concerned to develop the site as a primary healthcare centre. However, in contact between the developer and the HSE it was indicated that the prospect of developing it was in jeopardy.
The site, she added, was discussed at a later meeting between the Minister and Nama representatives. While the specific address was not given it was very clear where the site was located.
“Lo and behold, on the night before the priority list of primary care centres was to be announced, the Balbriggan location found its way on to the list,” she added.
Ms McDonald said the document in Sinn Féin’s possession openly contradicted the Minister’s claim that he had no hand, act or part in the selection of the Balbriggan site.
“Some months on from these events, does the Tánaiste believe the Minister’s claim of innocence in this escapade?” she added.
She asked if the Tánaiste gave Dr Reilly the balance of credibility over and above former minister of state Róisín Shortall.
Mr Gilmore said Ms McDonald was trawling over material that had been discussed in the House a number of times.