Monday 18 December 2017

Reilly tried to get out of controversial deal before taking top job

Minister for Health James Reilly
Minister for Health James Reilly

Fionnan Sheahan Group Political Editor

DR James Reilly has revealed he tried to get out of a business deal, which has resulted in him being listed as a debt defaulter, even before he became health minister.

Dr Reilly had the embarrassment of being officially named in 'Stubbs Gazette' 18 months ago for failing to pay €1.9m.

In an unprecedented development for a sitting cabinet member, the minister was named, along with three business partners, in the debt-monitoring magazine, while a fourth business partner was previously named.

The listing arose after the High Court ordered Dr Reilly and the four others to pay €1.9m to purchase a nursing home in Co Tipperary they invested in 13 years ago.

The minister said he hoped the matter would be resolved soon and revealed he was trying to get out of the deal before he became a minister nearly three years ago.

"Well I hope so. But again, you see, that is out of my control," he told the Irish Independent.

"It's completely outside of my control. There is a dispute between different partners in a process, and I have been willing to remove myself from this even before I became minister. But legally it hasn't been possible.

"But I have no doubt it will resolve itself."

The tax-driven nursing home investment deal involved a well-heeled syndicate of white-collar professionals.

Dr Reilly and the others agreed to settle the case taken against them in relation to the construction and operation of the Green Hills nursing home in 2000 for just under €2m.

The High Court formally ordered Dr Reilly and the four other investors to pay €1.9m after reneging on a deal to buy the home out from the other investors once it had been in operation for a decade.

Dr Reilly and the others consented to the judgment, meaning they accept the debt is owed.

When he became health minister in March 2011, Dr Reilly handed over power of attorney to his solicitor in relation to his business interest in this property.

A court case the following year resulted in an agreement that Dr Reilly and four co-investors would buy out the interests of another group of investors.

The judgment of the court is not in dispute, but the parties are seeking to agree the methodology for the payment of the sums due on foot of the judgment.

Irish Independent

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