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Coalition at war as Quinn rages over Reilly gaffe

RELATIONS within the Coalition were at their worst ever today as James Reilly's ministerial future remained in doubt.

Labour's Ruairi Quinn was said to be furious after he accidently misled the Dail with details provided by Dr Reilly's Department of Health.

Tanaiste Eamon Gilmore is now under pressure within his party to act over the botched affair.

Meanwhile Fianna Fail leader Micheal Martin said he believed Dr Reilly's position was untenable.

Admitted

The controversy took a fresh twist when the Health Minister was forced to backtrack on claims a controversial primary -care site in Balbriggan was selected while Mary Harney was in office.

The land in north Co Dublin is owned by developer Seamus Murphy, a Fine Gael party member and supporter of Dr Reilly.

It is also in the minister's constituency.

He, and Education Minister Mr Quinn, had said the site was decided upon by the HSE when Ms Harney was in office.

But Dr Reilly later admitted the information was wrong and another site was selected at that point, which subsequently fell through.

Dr Reilly now says a lease was signed with Mr Murphy in September 2011, six months after the minister came to office.

He was forced to admit to the Dail that the "Harney" claim was incorrect.

Dr Reilly has received support among his Fine Gael colleagues, including Taoiseach Enda Kenny, who said the Government had given its absolute backing to the minister.

But two Labour MEPs, Phil Prendergast and Nessa Childers, and Dublin councillor Cian O'Callaghan have called on Dr Reilly to go.

Labour Dublin North East TD Sean Kenny said: "There's no evidence of any wrongdoing (on the part of Dr Reilly) but it is a very confusing picture. The handling of it by the minister is certainly open to question."

comurphy@herald.ie


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