The Taoiseach has dismissed accusations that debt-defaulting Health Minister James Reilly deliberately closed public hospital beds to drive business to a private nursing home.
As the former GP prepares a statement on his 1.9 million euro Stubbs Gazette listing, Enda Kenny said the under fire minister's investments had nothing to do with his government job.
He also rejected suggestions from Sinn Fein president Gerry Adams that there is a conflict of interest, insisting Dr Reilly declared his business connections before taking office.
"You seem to be implying that Minister Reilly is deliberately closing public beds to drive people into private nursing homes in which he is an investor, which is a preposterous assumption," the Taoiseach said.
"To make an assertion like that when the minister first of all declares his public interest, as a matter of public interest, his interest in his business and has divested himself through power of attorney to deal with that at arm's length."
Mr Kenny insisted Dr Reilly's role involved changing the structure and nature of the delivery of health services in the interest of patients in an efficient and cost-effective way.
"Clearly a number of changes are made to the structure of the bed situation in both public and private around the country," the Taoiseach said.
The minister was named as a debtor in Stubbs Gazette after the High Court last year ordered him to pay back his share of a 1.9 million euro nursing home investment that turned sour.
It is understood a number of investors had agreed to buy out other investors in the Green Hills home in Tipperary, but the deal has never been followed through. Dr Reilly is believed to hold the smallest stake in the investment.
Mr Adams claimed there is a clear conflict of interest in the minister's nursing home investment, given his overseeing of the closure of 296 public nursing beds this year. He criticised the Taoiseach for defending Dr Reilly's business dealings. "You're accepting that it is proper for a minister to have a private investment in his private wealth and also be closing public nursing beds, and that is shameful," the Louth TD said.