Reilly failed to answer Dáil question


MINISTER FOR Health James Reilly failed to answer a Dáil question about the controversial primary care centres he announced earlier this year, Ceann Comhairle Seán Barrett has ruled.

Mr Barrett has found that the Fine Gael Minister failed to answer a question about the criteria he used to identify the 35 priority centres that were announced as part of a Government stimulus package announced last July.

He was also found to have failed to detail the process that led to his decision, which resulted in the inclusion of two locations in his Dublin North constituency in the list, as well as other locations which were the subject of lobbying by Government backbenchers.

Mr Barrett was ruling on a complaint made by Sinn Féin health spokesman Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin over a question he asked the Minister in late September. This was shortly after controversy broke over Dr Reilly’s addition of 15 locations to the primary care list originally drawn up by his then minister of state, Róisín Shortall.

Mr Ó Caoláin asked Dr Reilly to detail the “exact criteria” used to identify the 35 priority centres; to detail the process which led to this decision; and the criteria used by the HSE to draw up an original long list of 200 potential locations. He also asked the Minister to provide both the short and the long lists.

Dr Reilly gave a lengthy response in which he listed the original three criteria used by Ms Shortall to list locations by priority. These were deprivation, an accommodation assessment in each area, and a service priority identified by local officials.

He said additional criteria were then added. These were competition; GP co-operation and GP to population ratio; existing health facilities; pressures on services; funding options; and implementability of a centre by public private partnership.

Mr Barrett has written to the Minister and his response will be included in the official Dáil record.