Sunday 25 February 2018

Political pals gained financially from Reilly decisions, Dail told

Fionnan Sheahan

Fionnan Sheahan

HEALTH Minister Dr James Reilly has "conferred financial and commercial gain" on people to whom he has political links with his selection of primary care sites, the Dail has been told.

The statement came in the wake of Irish Independent revelations this morning that a supporter of the Health Minister owns the site in the minister’s constituency where a controversial health centre will be built.

Dr Reilly also used a property on the site as a general election base.

Fianna Fail health spokesman Billy Kelleher said the selection of primary care centres was a “grubby affair”.

“Minister Reilly has conferred financial and commercial gain on individuals that he has political ties with – posters inside in the house, pulling Christmas crackers with each other at Chamber of Commerce dinners,” he said.

But Education Minister Ruari Quinn has backed Dr Reilly over the controversy.

“I am quite satisfied with the information that I have received from Dr Reilly that the location is in accordance with the criteria,” he said.

The Health Minister will be answering questions in the Dail on the primary care centres location later today.

Earlier, a Labour Party mayor challenged Tanaiste Eamon Gilmore to sack Dr Reilly.

Mayor of Fingal Cian O’Callaghan, the chairman of the council in north Dublin, says Mr Gilmore must force Dr Reilly to resign.

“The Tánaiste Eamon Gilmore TD must insist that the Minister for Health James Reilly TD resigns with immediate effect. The latest revelations show yet again that Minister Reilly is failing to reform our healthcare system in the best interests of the country,” he says.

“The wrong Minister in the Department of Health resigned last week. James Reilly has failed to deliver on key reforms regarding consultants pay, reducing the bill for generic drugs and rolling out free GP care for people with long term illness,” he adds.

Mr O’Callaghan said the Dr Reilly circumvented the rationale for primary care prioritisation.

“This rationale based on delivering primary care centres for areas of high economic deprivation first makes perfect sense, as these are the same areas that have a low level of GP cover. As a country we need to divert people away from congested and pressurised hospitals and towards primary care where appropriate. As a first step areas of economic disadvantage with low levels of GPs require primary care centres to plug this gap.”

Labour MEP Nessa Childers has also hit out at Dr Reilly, saying his position as health minister was untenable.

She said the latest revelations raised serious questions about the minister's approach to public health.

Ms Childers added it was clear that other priorities were dictating the allocation of primary care centres, saying there was a failure to deal with health provision in accordance with the programme for Government.

"This is a critical moment for the Labour parliamentary party," she said.

"The party in Government has to take a stand on insisting that health care, and indeed all Government policy, is operated in an open and transparent manner and that all resources are allocated according to need - not privilege."

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