Reilly official in contact over care centres
Minister for Health James Reilly’s constituency office contacted his department eight times before the announcement of a Government stimulus package last July seeking updates on plans to develop a primary care centre in Balbriggan.
Dr Reilly has come under fire over the addition of locations in Balbriggan and Swords in his constituency to a list for primary care centres drawn up by the HSE and his then minister of state Róisín Shortall.
Documents released by the department yesterday include a handwritten note by a civil servant maintaining that a ministerial adviser was told about advanced plans to develop the Balbriggan centre by leasing rather than through a public-private partnership (PPP) arrangement under the stimulus package. The note says the adviser consulted Dr Reilly and that Swords and Balbriggan were to remain on the PPP list.
The first indication in the files to show that Swords and Balbriggan had been added is a separate handwritten note by an official just after 6pm on the evening before the Government announced the stimulus plan.
The files show the HSE had been planning to develop a primary care centre in Balbriggan under a leasing arrangement.
According to the handwritten notes, the official told the adviser the location in Balbriggan for a leased care centre had been decided and the price agreed. It says the adviser consulted the Minister and “both Swords and Balbriggan will stay”.
Dr Reilly’s constituency staff first contacted the department on March 16th after Balbriggan Town Council passed a motion calling on him to update it on plans for a primary care centre.
His office made further contact on April 2nd and 12th, May 21st, June 5th, 12th and 20th, and July 2nd. In April, they were told a site “with potential” had been identified. In June, they were told the developer behind the project had agreed a purchase price with the HSE.
The file shows Dr Reilly approved 30 locations for primary care centres on July 12th. This was later revised, with the addition of Swords, Balbriggan, Ballaghaderreen and Kilkenny.
Fianna Fáil health spokesman Billy Kelleher said this raises new questions. “The latest material confirms that the Tánaiste Eamon Gilmore was either misleading the Dáil, or was misled when he told Micheál Martin ‘there was no ministerial involvement in the selection of any individual site’ on October 4th. The documentation shows that the Minister was directly involved in adding his constituency to the list.”