The minister has been accused of stroke politics in recent weeks, after two towns in his Dublin North constituency — Balbriggan and Swords — were added to a list of locations for primary care centres.
Yesterday it was confirmed that a meeting with NAMA took place on April 20 and a number of primary care locations were discussed, including Balbriggan.”However, no specific address was mentioned,” stressed Dr Reilly.
He added: “Within its commercial remit NAMA advises that it is at all times open to proposals which can contribute to the achievement of broader social and economic objectives. In this context many issues of interest to the health services were discussed.”
A spokesman for the minister said there had been “no discussion of any specific primary care site — NAMA would be precluded from so doing”.
But Mr Doherty raised further questions about whether Minister for Health James Reilly was “hands-on with the issue of the selection of a primary care centre site in Balbriggan”.
He added: “Why did Minister Reilly not divulge this information before now?”
He said the minister had repeatedly stated that he had nothing to do with the choice of the site for the Balbriggan primary care centre.
During an Oireachtas debate in September, Dr Reilly said:”I had no hand, act nor part in this.”
The recent controversy over the location of primary care centres escalated after it was revealed that a Fine Gael associate, Seamus Murphy, originally owned the site in Balbriggan chosen for the primary care building.
However, it later transpired the site was in NAMA and the original owner would not benefit from its sale.
Mr Doherty said there continued to be unanswered questions about the Balbriggan site.
Last night Dr Reilly said both Swords, and Balbriggan were recognized as high-priority areas by the HSE five years ago. However, both “lost out” after Minister of State Shortall increased the weighting and they were swept from high priority to low priority. Under the original priority system, Reilly stated they both would have been in the top 35. Conversely, under the new system with an altered weighting system, they ended down the list.”
However, we now know this is a blatant lie as Balbriggan was ranked in forty fourth position and Swords in one hundred and twenty seventh place before Ms. Shortall ordered officials to change the weighting related to deprivation.