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Tuesday 16 September 2014

James Reilly 'aware of supporter's site before he bumped town up care list'

Fiach Kelly Political Correspondent

Published 20/12/2012 | 05:00

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James Reilly

HEALTH Minister James Reilly knew a site owned by one of his supporters was in line to be the location for a primary care centre months before he bumped the town it was situated in up a priority list.

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Internal documents from the Department of Health show Dr Reilly was told by his officials about the site in Balbriggan in his Dublin North constituency.

The site was owned by Seamus Murphy, a Fine Gael supporter from Balbriggan, who was in NAMA.

A briefing document prepared for Dr Reilly before he met NAMA said: "A developer has identified a site in the town 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 this process is awaited."

Dr Reilly met with NAMA on April 20 to discuss various sites that could be used for health purposes, such as for primary care centres and the children's hospital.

Dr Reilly previously told the Dail that Balbriggan was discussed, but specific addresses in the town were not. Minutes of the meeting say "progress at a number of PCC (primary care centres) was discussed", including Balbriggan.

The details are contained in documents obtained by Sinn Fein TD Pearse Doherty.

The minister's spokesman last night insisted that no specific addresses were discussed at the NAMA meeting.

Dr Reilly bumped Balbriggan and Swords up a priority list for primary care centres, which caused massive controversy and led to the resignation of Roisin Shortall as junior minister.

Dr Reilly last month admitted he included Balbriggan in the list as a safety net to ensure its primary care centre was built.

Doubts

There had been serious doubts hanging over the private development of the Balbriggan centre in the months before Dr Reilly put it on the priority list.

When asked if he included Balbriggan because there was a doubt over whether it would proceed, Dr Reilly told the Irish Independent: "Yeah, at the time there was a serious doubt about the lease arrangement going ahead. It looked like it was going to fall through."

Documents show the developer of the primary care centre, AJ Noonan, had been dealing with site owner Seamus Murphy and NAMA for months, but was becoming exasperated.

Dr Reilly was aware of negotiations on the site, but has maintained that he had no "hand, act or part" in the selection of the site.

Irish Independent

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