Belfast Telegraph

Saturday 23 August 2014

Taoiseach vows backing for Reilly

Health Minister James Reilly faces fresh calls to resign over what Fianna Fail are calling a clear conflict of interest

The Taoiseach has pledged his absolute support to embattled Health Minister James Reilly, as discontent begins to build within Labour ranks.

Enda Kenny defended his Fine Gael deputy, who was forced to reject claims he acted unethically amid revelations an associate of his owns a site controversially chosen for a new primary care centre.

"The Government have given absolute backing to Minister Reilly," said Mr Kenny, who was in Brussels meeting European Council president Manuel Barroso.

Dr Reilly came out fighting following calls for his resignation.

He was charged with a conflict of interest regarding his relationship with Fine Gael supporter Seamus Murphy, who owns the site earmarked for development in Balbriggan - in his north Dublin constituency.

"I've no business connection to Mr Murphy, I had no discussion with him about this primary care centre and I had absolutely no role in the selection of this site," said Dr Reilly, in response to special notice questions from Opposition TDs.

But the minister was forced into a U-turn over the date the site in question was selected. He initially claimed it was chosen years ago by his predecessor Mary Harney.

However, it has now emerged that the selection may have taken place after the general election in 2011 - when Dr Reilly was minister.

An initial site in Balbriggan had been chosen but the deal fell through in November 2010.

Dr Reilly said the subsequent selection of Mr Murphy's site was made some time between then and November 2011 when the lease was signed - and when his Government was in power. Dr Reilly admitted he had mixed up the sites.

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