James Reilly faces new cash quiz over €15m clinic
HEALTH Minister James Reilly is today embroiled in fresh controversy - this time over an abandoned multimillion-euro health development.
He is facing questions over whether he still owes money on the proposed development of a health centre in his own north Dublin constituency.
The Irish Independent has learned that Dr Reilly was part of a consortium, along with two other GPs, bidding to build the 10,000sqm project -- estimated to cost almost €15m -- in one of the capital's busiest retail parks.
Land registry documents also show that a loan from Ulster Bank was used to part or fully fund the site. The development, at Airside Retail Park near Dublin Airport, was picked by the HSE as its preferred location for a primary care centre, a one-stop local health centre, for Swords.
But the plans stalled and now the HSE is looking for a new primary care location - and the original vacant site is now for sale.
Dr Reilly has listed the site in his latest annual declaration of interests -- but not that it has full planning permission. He had previously listed it as a primary-care centre, which would include GPs, dentists and other medical facilities.
However, the Standards in Public Office Commission said he did not have to declare the planning permission. But there was some confusion over whether Dr Reilly should have declared his partnership in the Airside Clinic business, which is listed at the Companies' Office.
The development comes as the embattled minister last night made a Dail speech after he was named on a debt defaulters' list for failing to pay €1.9m for a Tipperary nursing home deal.
"I have at at all times acted with with complete propriety and... the problem stems from complicated litigation surrounding an investment made 12 years ago," Dr Reilly told the Dail.
"There has been a suggestion that I might have a conflict of interest because of my share in a property that houses a private nursing home.
"I'd like to state very clearly on the record of the House that nothing could be further from the truth.
"I entered politics late in life. I did so in pursuit of no business interest whatsoever. I did so because I passionately believe that we can provide better services to our citizens." Documents filed with the land registry show Dr Reilly was registered as the owner of the site at Nevinstown, Swords, with two Swords-based GPs, David Reilly -- understood to be no relation -- and Stan Natin.
Neither of the GPs returned calls last night. They were registered as owners of the site with Dr Reilly in June 2007, at the height of the property boom and just after Dr Reilly's election to the Dail as a TD for Dublin North.
Last night in the Dail, Dr Reilly also said: "Also, for completeness, can I advise the house that I had intended to develop a primary-care centre with partners in Nevinstown in Swords. The project is not being proceeded with and is for sale."
The four-storey over-basement plans have 9,594sqm of space and were granted planning permission by Fingal County Council in 2008.
It was intended to house six GP practices and other facilities such as a dentist, physiotherapist, pharmacist and creche.
The Irish Independent last night asked Dr Reilly a number of questions about the development, including:
- When and why it was decided to sell the site?
- If he still owes money to Ulster Bank for it?
- The proposed total cost of the scheme and the total paid for the site?
- How much of that was made up by a loan?
However, no answers were supplied by the time of going to press.
Fianna Fail health spokesman Billy Kelleher said Dr Reilly had to give a full statement on all his health business ventures.
He added: "We need a full statement on every business he is or was involved in that could be impacted by his decisions. It is not good enough for him to just put in his declaration of interests."
Last night a spokesman for Taoiseach Enda Kenny said he was satisfied that a "comprehensive series of explanations" had been provided by Dr Reilly.