Kenny orders Reilly to make peace with Gilmore
TAOISEACH Enda Kenny ordered James Reilly to give an angry Labour leader Eamon Gilmore a face-to-face assurance that he was not involved in the selection of a controversial primary-care centre site.
Mr Gilmore demanded the showdown talks after incorrect information had been given to Labour's Ruairi Quinn.
The meeting took place in the wake of the Irish Independent's revelations of personal and political links between Dr Reilly and the owner of a site for a centre in Balbriggan.
Afterwards, Mr Gilmore said he had received an assurance that Dr Reilly had no role in the selection of any sites.
The Tanaiste held the meeting with the Health Minister before he faced Dail questions from the opposition on the controversy. He first approached Mr Kenny to lay out his concerns. They agreed that a meeting was needed.
Mr Gilmore then met Dr Reilly and senior health officials to discuss the controversy.
Labour figures were furious Mr Quinn, the Education Minister, had been given an incorrect briefing from Dr Reilly's officials, which led to him giving the Dail the wrong information earlier this week.
Dr Reilly has cancelled a trip to Galway University Hospital which was scheduled to take place this morning. His spokesman was not answering queries, in what looked like an apparent attempt to shut the controversy down.
It came after Mr Gilmore was quizzed in the Dail on the controversy and said he had received an assurance Dr Reilly had no role in the selection of any sites.
The Dublin Street site in Balbriggan, which is owned by Seamus Murphy, was selected by the HSE during Dr Reilly's tenure in office.
The HSE failed last night to give any further information about how the site -- which is being developed by Rhonellan Developments, whose chairman AJ Noonan donated €1,000 to Fine Gael -- was chosen for the town's primary care centre.
The Tanaiste said the acting HSE chief executive Tony O'Brien and the secretary general of the Department of Health, Ambrose McLoughlin, were also present at yesterday morning's meeting.
"They have told me directly that there was no ministerial involvement in the selection of any particular site for a primary care centre," he said.
Mr Gilmore also said he always gave former junior minister Roisin Shortall his full support while she was working with Dr Reilly.
He added: "At all times, I supported Minister Shortall in what she was trying to do in the Department of Health."
Mr Kenny, speaking at a press conference, said he asked Dr Reilly to assure Mr Gilmore that he had no role in the selection of sites.
"I did ask that those confirmations and assurances be given, and they were given, and I accept them," the Taoiseach said.
A spokesman for Mr Kenny confirmed the Tanaiste wanted assurances and that the Taoiseach agreed to this.
Mr Kenny also said Dr Reilly had already outlined the rationale for bumping Balbriggan and other towns up the list of primary care centres announced as party of the Government's stimulus package.
But Fianna Fail leader Micheal Martin called for the publication of all documents related to the centres, including how Dr Reilly had decided that some locations should be given preference over others.
Government sources last night said Dr Reilly still enjoys the strong support of Mr Kenny and the vast majority of Fine Gael parliamentary party, although a small number of backbench TDs were murmuring that this is the latest in a line of controversies. One rural TD asked: "I mean, how much more of this can you take, politically?"
However, Fine Gael deputy Jerry Buttimer, chairman of the Oireachtas Health Committee, insisted that Dr Reilly was doing a good job, but may have to improve his communications.
Meanwhile, Mr O'Brien and Mr McLoughlin are due to appear before the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) next Tuesday.
They are expected to be asked about the overrun in health spending and public sector allowances.