Reilly urged to consider role amid claims by SF
Sinn Féin has again called on Minister for Health James Reilly to consider his position, following the latest information to emerge about primary care centres in his constituency.
Health spokesman Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin claimed information obtained by the party under freedom of information legislation contradicted Dr Reilly’s claim that he made no representations about any particular site for a primary care centre.
Last July, on the day before the Government announced the list of planned primary care centres compiled by Dr Reilly’s officials and then minister of state Róisín Shortall, Dr Reilly added two locations in his constituency, Swords and Balbriggan.
It later emerged that the Balbriggan centre is being developed on a site owned by one of his supporters, Séamus Murphy, whose debts are with the National Asset Management Agency.
The documents show that Department of Health officials briefed Dr Reilly on a potential site for a primary care centre in Balbriggan in advance of a meeting with Nama last April.
The meeting was called to discuss “synergies” that could be achieved by using Nama buildings for health purposes.
Sites ‘not discussed’
“A developer has identified a site in the town centre which is being used as a surface car park. GPs have committed to locate here. The site has been on the market for 10/12 weeks and the outcome of the process is awaited,” the note states.
However, a spokesman for Dr Reilly said there was no discussion of actual sites at the meeting with Nama officials, and only passing mention of primary care centres.
In the Dáil yesterday, a claim by Sinn Féin deputy leader Mary Lou McDonald that Dr Reilly acted improperly in the allocation of primary care centres led to a furious row.
Dr Reilly challenged Ms McDonald to repeat her claims outside the House where it would not be covered by Dáil privilege.
Ms McDonald said the Minister was well aware that his Fine Gael party colleagues were concerned to develop the site as a primary health care centre.
However, in contact between the developer and the HSE, it was indicated that the prospect of developing it was in jeopardy.
The site was discussed at a later meeting between the Minister and Nama representatives, she said.
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 of primary care centres,’’ 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.