Reilly and Shortall continue dispute over care centre list
MINISTER FOR HEALTH James Reilly and his former minister of state Róisín Shortall were at loggerheads again last night, this time over changes made to a list of locations where primary care centres will be built by capital funding.
Eight locations have been picked for the development of centres by State capital funding, according to documents seen by The Irish Times.
Four of the towns were ranked low priority in an overall list of suitable locations drawn up by HSE officials. They were brought in to replace high-priority locations which are now being developed by public private partnerships with developers.
Of the locations added to the list, Monaghan town was ranked 28th, Ballinamore in Co Leitrim was 92nd, Sligo town was 126th and Manorhamilton in Co Leitrim was 168th.
The locations they replaced were Rowlagh and Coolock South in Dublin, Dungloe in Co Donegal, Rathdrum in Co Wicklow and Ballymote, Co Sligo. These towns, which were all ranked in the top 17 on the original priority list, will now be developed by public private partnership method.
A spokesman for Dr Reilly said last night that these changes were made by Ms Shortall and HSE officials. However, Ms Shortall said her involvement with the process ended before this, and she was not involved in decisions to change the way centres were to be developed.
Information about the towns chosen for capital funding was redacted from a file obtained under freedom of information last month. The Irish Times has since obtained unredacted documents listing all locations. The documents show the other four locations chosen for capital funding are areas of high deprivation which ranked highly on the list – Knocknaheeny in Cork, and Finglas South, Grangegorman and Corduff in Dublin.
Care centres are being developed by three methods: Government funding through the capital programme; public private partnerships; and lease arrangements. Some €44 million will be made available for building the centres under the five-year capital plan. No announcement on this has been made to date.
After resigning last week, Ms Shortall accused Dr Reilly of “stroke politics” when two locations in his constituency, Swords and Balbriggan, were included in the list of 35 towns where centres will be developed by public private partnership method.
His decision to also add two locations in Co Roscommon to this list mystified officials who drew up the list, according to informed sources. Ballaghaderreen, which had been ranked 238th on the list, and Boyle, which was in 243rd place, were added to the priority top 35 published by the Government last July.
According to the HSE’s latest status update, the development of a centre in Swords is at a preliminary stage as officials are “reviewing recent submissions”.