Saturday 24 February 2018

Eamon Gilmore declares his confidence in embattled Minister

TANAISTE Eamon Gilmore declared confidence in Dr James Reilly following his statement on his naming as a debt defaulter.

Mr Gilmore repeatedly said he accepts the statement made by Dr Reilly around his €1.9m debt arising from his investment in a nursing home.

“Yes I have confidence in the Minister for Health as I do in all the ministers that serve in this Government,” he said.

But Sinn Fein questioned when Dr Reilly would pay the debt and asked Mr Gilmore if he felt the State ethics watchdog should investigate his declaration of interests.

Earlier Transport Minister Leo Varadkar pleaded for clemency for his Fine Gael colleague Dr James Reilly, who has been named on a debt defaulters' list for failing to pay €1.9m.

Mr Varadkar said Dr Reilly, who is Minister for Health and deputy leader of the party, had done nothing wrong and should get a fair hearing from TDs.

"What it seems to me is that he was a minority investor in a nursing home and the investment didn't succeed and he lost money on it -- and that's not all that unusual," Mr Varadkar said.

Speaking in Brussels, where he was attending a Tourism Ireland event, he said: "I can't see he's done anything wrong. An unsuccessful investment doesn't make you a wrongdoer."

Dr Reilly was listed as a defaulter this week in the business journal 'Stubbs Gazette' for failing to compensate several investors in a private nursing home in Co Tipperary.

Mr Varadkar said there was nothing untoward in a health minister having an interest in a private nursing home and insisted that Dr Reilly had handed the running of the investment over to a solicitor before taking office last year.

"Say you're minister for agriculture, should you have to sell your farm?" he asked.

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