Reilly says he acted with propriety
Minister for Health James Reilly has contended he acted with “full propriety” in all his dealings with a nursing home investment despite being named as a debt defaulter in Stubbs Gazette this week.
In a personal statement to the Dáil late last night, Dr Reilly gave a detailed explanation of how “complex litigation” and protracted negotiations, which remain unresolved, had resulted in him and four other investors missing the deadline last April in relation to paying a €1.9 million debt. It led to the debt being registered against the consortium with the subsequent publication.
“I regret that it did not prove possible to reach agreement in advance of being named in Stubbs Gazette,” he said.
Dr Reilly outlined in a 10-minute statement to the House his attempts to divest himself of his share in the nursing home over a period of 16 months since early last year. He said that he had offered to sell his shares twice, once at a reduced price, but there were no takers.
He also disclosed he had extensive engagement with the Standards in Public Office Commission (Sipo) in relation to the investment to comply with the code of conduct that applied to Ministers.
He said an arrangement had finally been agreed whereby an independent solicitor was given power of attorney over the investment. He said two earlier solutions – giving power of attorney to his own solicitor and setting up a blind trust – had not proved possible. He said Sipo had suggested the blind trust but his bank had not consented to it because it believed it was inappropriate because of the ongoing litigation.
Since the publication of Dr Reilly’s name on Tuesday, the Minister has faced criticism for the outstanding debt, as well as the perceived conflict of interest in relation to a serving Minister for Health retaining an interest in a private nursing home.
On the claim that there was a conflict of interest, Dr Reilly rejected the assertion. “I can state very clearly on the record of the House that nothing could be further from the truth,” he said.
He cited his efforts to divest his interest, his policy of moving nursing home residents back to their own homes, as well as him having no involvement in running the home.
“My single interest is the wellbeing of older persons. Too many are in long-term care and should be in their own homes,” he said.
Dr Reilly’s explanation detailed the history of the investment since 2000 and the more recent dispute between two classes of investors over a requirement to buy out the other’s interests. He said efforts were underway to pay the other group of investors the €1.9 million that was owed. He suggested the failure to reach agreement was partly due to a number of adjournments in proceedings in the run-up to the deadline.
“Our intention is to meet the financial obligations and they will be met,” he said.
Government sources said last night that it hoped that the Minister’s very detailed explanation would draw a line under a controversy that has rumbled on since the publication on Tuesday morning.
Taoiseach Enda Kenny’s spokesman said he was satisfied that Dr Reilly had given a very comprehensive account of all the issues surrounding the matter.
The Opposition has accused Dr Reilly of muddying the water with a confusing account that did not fully answer key questions – how the deadline was not met, and why he found out so late his name would appear in Stubbs Gazette.