Construction starts on care centre in Reilly's constituency
Construction has begun on a controversial primary care centre in Balbriggan, located in former Health Minister Dr James Reilly's constituency of Dublin North, the Irish Independent has learned.
Dr Reilly, now Minister for Children and Youth Affairs, added 15 locations to a list of centres to be developed under a Government stimulus fund in 2012, including two in his own constituency.
The HSE had originally identified a list of 200 potential locations, before sending a list of the top 20 recommendations to the Department of Health.
The list was then expanded to 35, with it later emerging that both Balbriggan and Swords were added to the list on the night before it was released to the public. Their inclusion prompted junior minister in the Department of Health, Róisín Shortall, to resign in protest, claiming her senior minister had engaged in "stroke politics", which he denied.
Construction work has started on the primary care centre in Balbriggan and is estimated to be completed by the third quarter of next year.
It is expected to be operational before the end of 2016.
The HSE spokeswoman added: "The primary care centre for Balbriggan will be delivered via the operational lease mechanism. The preferred provider has appointed Townmore Construction to complete the works."
The HSE had not responded to multiple requests to clarify who the preferred provider on the project was at the time of publication.
Of the 35 locations shortlisted, 13 are to be developed under a public private partnership.
Balbriggan and Swords, along with centres in Drogheda north and Tralee, are to be built via the operational lease mechanism, meaning that the HSE will outsource the construction and then lease them back.
Regarding the site in Swords the HSE spokeswoman said: "The HSE did select a preferred provider for Swords primary care centre and planning permission was granted in March 2014 for the site selected; however, this site has recently been sold. The HSE is now awaiting an update from the preferred provider."