Timelime: How events unfolded
July 3rdA list of 20 primary care sites for development by PPP is finalised following months of analysis and preparation involving HSE and then minister of state for primary care Róisín Shortall. The list is weighted in favour of the most deprived areas in the country. The list is then considered by the Department of Health and Department of Public Expenditure (DPER) in advance of a public announcement later in the month.
July 16th, 6.02pmDPER officials inform their counterparts in Health for the first time that the list of locations for the primary centres will be published at the time the announcement is made the following day. The proposed wording states that “a list of 33 potential locations has been identified by the Minister for Health” James Reilly.
July 16th, 8pmHealth officials mail DPER attaching “DoH’s final list”. The list has grown to 35. South Dublin has come off the list and Swords and Balbriggan, both in Dr Reilly’s Dublin North constituency, and Oranmore have been added. Swords ranked 130th on Ms Shortall’s earlier list while Balbriggan ranked 44th.
July 17th 10:15amCabinet meeting starts.
July 17th 11.35amHealth officials inform DPER “there are changes to last night’s list”. Castlecomer and Oranmore are no longer on the list, while Ballaghaderreen and Kilkenny have been added.
July 17th, 2pm:A press conference is held to announce the Government stimulus package. A major part of this package is the announcement of a list of 35 priority locations for primary care centres. Twenty of these sites will be developed by PPP.
July 20th:Ms Shortall writes to Dr Reilly saying: “I find it difficult to understand the basis on which the 35 locations which you published on Tuesday were selected.”
July 24thMs Shortall declined to express confidence in Dr Reilly.
September 21st:The Irish Times publishes a story revealing two locations in Dr Reilly’s constituency were added to the list of primary care centres after the list drawn up by Ms Shortall and the HSE was passed to his department. Ms Shortall tells Dr Reilly she found the move “hard to understand”, but Fine Gael and Labour Ministers close ranks behind Dr Reilly.
September 23rd:Rank-and-file Labour members express strong support for Ms Shortall. Pressure on Dr Reilly mounts when Minister for Transport Leo Varadkar says his Cabinet colleague’s decision “does look like” stroke politics. “I don’t know if it is or not,” he adds.
September 25th:When the matter is raised in the Dáil by both Fianna Fáil and Sinn Féin, Taoiseach Enda Kenny defends Dr Reilly robustly. In the evening, Dr Reilly and Ms Shortall meet for about half an hour in Leinster House.
September 26th:Ms Shortall resigns as minister of state and relinquishes the Labour whip, in part over the primary care issue.
“The public have a right to expect that decisions on health infrastructure and staffing will be made in the public interest based on health need and not driven by other concerns,” she says.