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Minister boasted to local media about clinics plan

UNDER-FIRE Health Minister James Reilly trumpeted his plan to locate two proposed primary-care centres in his own Dublin North constituency less than two hours after the announcement of proposals for 35 such centres nationwide, newly released documents reveal.

Dr Reilly has been at the centre of controversy since it emerged that he decided to add Swords and Balbriggan to a list of primary-care centres. That decision led to the resignation of junior minister Roisin Shortall.

The two towns were added at the last minute, the night before the plans for the 35 primary-care centres were announced by Public Expenditure Minister Brendan Howlin.

Now the Irish Independent can reveal that less than two hours after Mr Howlin's announcement, Dr Reilly issued a release to the media in his constituency, highlighting the inclusion of the two towns and describing the plan for clinics in Swords and Balbriggan as "a great boost to the people of Dublin North".

Ms Shortall – who had responsibility for primary-care centres – resigned in September over Dr Reilly's decision to locate two of the proposed clinics there.

When it emerged in recent days that Swords and Balbriggan had been added to the list of care centres on the night before the announcement, she described the move as "blatant stroke politics".

Dr Reilly had told the Dail that they were included after what he described as a "logistical logarithmic progression", but Ms Shortall has since described this explanation as "codswallop".

Fianna Fail leader Micheal Martin called on Dr Reilly to resign, saying: "I'm absolutely shocked at the revelations."

Dr Reilly's spokesman did not respond to calls last night.

Irish Independent