Reilly knew talks to buy site were ongoing

Health Minister James Reilly was fully aware of the ongoing talks about the purchase of a site to be used for a primary care development in his own constituency.

However, his spokesman was unable to say at the time of going to press last night if Dr Reilly knew the site was owned by a Fine Gael member whom the minister knew personally.

Further pressure was heaped on Dr Reilly yesterday when two Labour MEPs called for his resignation over his decision to add two sites in his constituency to a list of locations for primary care centres.

The first of those sites, in Balbriggan, is owned by a Fine Gael member, devel-oper Seamus Murphy, whom Dr Reilly by his own admission knows personally.

Dr Reilly knew in June — a month before the revised primary care centre list was published — that negotiations for the purchase of the site were ongoing.

He told his local paper the Fingal Independent that month: “I’m very pleased to say the one in Balbriggan is running ahead and we hope to have some news on that in the not too distant future.

“There are negotiations going on and it’s down to price now and who knows the price of anything these days. We got consumed about the price of things in the past and forgot about the value of things and I haven’t forgotten about the value of things.”

The minister will now be under pressure to clarify if he knew the site was owned by Mr Murphy at the time.

Dr Reilly’s parliamentary assistant, Cllr Tom O’Leary, also knew of the negotiations at the time and made representations to the “appropriate authorities” to see if the development could be progressed.

In May, the same paper quoted Mr O’Leary as saying: “The HSE are positively supportive of the plan. I have made representations to the appropriate authorities to move the plan forward. I understand the local doctors and the developer are anxious to submit their planning application as soon as possible.”

Again, it was not clear last night if Mr O’Leary knew it was a Fine Gael member who owned the site. He did not return a call seeking comment.

It came as Fianna Fáil alleged in the Dáil that Dr Reilly may have preferred commercial advantage on Mr Murphy.

However, the minister insisted he had done nothing improper, saying he had no act, hand or part in the HSE’s decision to approve the development proposed for Mr Murphy’s site. He said he had “no discussions” with Mr Murphy about the care centre.

He also launched a stout defence of his decision to add Balbriggan and Swords to the list.

*Read more:

Reilly in office months before site deal

Reilly knew talks to buy site were ongoing

Talk of transparency is set aside for spin and secrecy

It’s a question of what he knew and when

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