Reilly denies impropriety in site selection
CARE CENTRE:MINISTER FOR Health James Reilly has rejected any suggestion of impropriety in the selection of a site for a new primary care centre in his constituency.
Dr Reilly also defended his relationship with a local developer, Séamus Murphy, after it emerged that the proposed centre in Balbriggan is due to be built on land owned by the north Dublin businessman.
He acknowledged knowing Mr Murphy, a member of Fine Gael for 40 years, but said any contention that there was anything wrong about his link with the businessman was “utterly wrong”.
Speaking on RTÉ Radio yesterday, he said the site had been identified years prior to the Coalition coming to power. However, he was forced to correct this later in the Dáil when he admitted this information was incorrect. The lease for the site was signed by AJ Noonan of Rhonellen Developments in September 2011, six months after the Government was appointed, he said.
“The selection of the site as has absolutely nothing to do with me,” he said, adding that the proceeds of a sale of the site would accrue to the National Asset Management Agency and that he did not see any benefit to Mr Murphy from the development.
“I had no business connection to Mr Murphy and no discussions with him in relation to a primary care centre,” the Minister told the Dáil.
Dr Reilly was accused by former minister of state Róisín Shortall of “stroke politics” last week when two locations in his constituency, including the Balbriggan site, were placed on the list of 35 towns in which centres will be developed by public-private partnerships.
A statement issued by the Minister’s office confirmed that Mr Murphy is a Fine Gael supporter and that a property owned by him was used to promote Dr Reilly during a general election campaign. It said Mr Murphy had no intention of developing a primary care centre. “The recent addition of Balbriggan to a list of potential towns that may seek to develop a primary care centre by way of a public-private partnership is an entirely separate matter,” Dr Reilly’s spokesman said.
The site on Dublin Street in Balbriggan is being sold to Rhonellen, which plans to operate the centre by way of lease with the Health Service Executive. Mr Noonan is a Fine Gael donor but has said he has donated to other parties.