Reilly under fire for unanswered Dáil question

 

Minister for Health James Reilly has again been taken to task by the Ceann Comhairle for failing to answer a Dáil question about primary care centres.

Earlier this month, Ceann Comhairle Seán Barrett found that his party colleague had failed to answer a question from Sinn Féin health spokesman Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin about the criteria he used to identify 35 priority locations for the centres announced last July.

Last week, Mr Barrett ruled that Dr Reilly had again failed to answer a question, this time from Labour backbencher Robert Dowds.

Mr Dowds had asked why a proposed primary care centre at Rowlagh in his constituency, which was originally slated to be funded under the Government’s capital programme, was now to be developed by public-private partnership.

This followed the revelation in September that Dr Reilly had added 15 locations, including two in his own constituency, to a list of priority locations for such centres.

After the Minister referred his inquiry to the Health Service Executive, Mr Dowds queried his compliance with Dáil standing orders in a letter to the Ceann Comhairle. Mr Barrett found that the Labour TD’s request for information had not been addressed, and sought a response from Dr Reilly.

The Minister replied that it was unfortunate that the detailed information sought by Mr Dowds was not furnished by his department at the time.

He said the department was not in a position to do so based on the information on its files alone and it had therefore referred the matter to the HSE for an answer.

He went on to say that Rowlagh was never included in a capital plans and was not included on the 2012 capital plan submitted to the department.

The delivery method for a potential primary care centre in Rowlagh changed in lists reported in the media and published by the department as part of the Government’s stimulus package announced last July, he said. This change occurred on the advice of the HSE’s head of estates as a public-private partnership was considered the fastest way to make progress.

According to the Ceann Comhairle, Standing Order 40A of the Dáil does not require ministers to provide information requested by a TD. It does, however, require that each and every request for information be addressed in the minister’s reply.

In response to questions from other TDs on the same issue, Dr Reilly said the consideration of projects for inclusion in the capital programme was “an evolving process”. Details of the next programme will be published shortly.