Health Minister said in June that care centre was on way
HEALTH Minister Dr James Reilly was telling his constituents as far back as June that a site was being lined up for a local primary-care centre -- but he not did say the site was owned by a supporter of his.
Dr Reilly told his local newspaper, the 'Fingal Independent', that negotiations on the site were ongoing and that there would be further news at the end of the year.
The minister has insisted that he had no hand act or part in the selection of a site on Dublin Street in Balbriggan, which is owned by Seamus Murphy, a Fine Gael supporter in the town.
Dr Reilly used a property on the site as a general election base but it is not clear if he knew this was the same site that was being earmarked for the primary-care unit when he was informing his constituents.
His spokesman did not return calls last night.
On June 5, Dr Reilly spoke to the 'Fingal Independent' about the progress on the Balbriggan site. This was a month before the list of 35 primary-care centres to be included in the Government's stimulus package was published.
Dr Reilly bumped Balbriggan and Swords -- both in his constituency -- into the top 35.
But in June, he told the same newspaper: "There are negotiations going on and it's down to price now -- who knows the price of anything these days?
"We got consumed about the price of things in the past and forgot about the value of things and I haven't forgotten about the value of things."
He hinted at other centres in his constituency, including in Swords, Skerries and Rush.
Dr Reilly said the centres were "important things that make a real difference in people's lives. Not alone that, they make sense economically."
He continued: "I'm very pleased to say the one in Balbriggan is running ahead and we hope to have some news on that in the not-too-distant future.
"There are some negotiations going on. I would think before the end of the year we would have news on that and we will have a site."
Further details from Dr Reilly were also published in the 'Fingal Independent' last July. He wrote a letter to independent Balbriggan town councillor Frank Snowe, which was picked up by the paper.
In it, Dr Reilly wrote: "A potential site in Balbriggan for the PCC (primary-care centre) has been identified.
"The HSE has recently advised that it has been informed that the purchase price has been agreed in principle. It is expected that the development will progress."
In his June interview, he was also asked about the Swords centre and said: "We need to get all the doctors together to join in and be involved.
"There is no point in us building a centre until we have agreement around that. I'm not going to have a situation where we have a centre and the doctors are asking me how much I want to pay them to move in -- that ain't going to happen."