At last the truth has emerged in the form of substantial and comprehensive freedom of information documents which we received last Friday evening, not through any openness from the Minister, Deputy Reilly, the Taoiseach or the Tánaiste. They reveal how multi-million euro investments in primary care centres were selected by the Minister, Deputy Reilly, who essentially rode roughshod through the diligent and effective work of the former Minister of State, Deputy Shortall, and the HSE. They had previously selected 20 primary care centres in accordance with international criteria, based around the concept of a deprivation index, so that those areas of the country most in need, socially and economically, would get such centres.
The Tánaiste promised me months ago that all documents would be published, even though he refused to do it subsequently. He said that once the documentation emerged it would prove that nothing wrong was done. The decision of the Minister for Health, Deputy Reilly, was supported by Minister after Minister, with the exception of the Minister of State, Deputy Shortall, who took a principled stand. Knowing the chicanery that was going on behind the scenes, she resigned in opposition to the actions of the Minister, Deputy Reilly, and of her fellow Ministers.
Freedom of information requests reveal a shambolic and chaotic decision-making process by the Minister, Deputy Reilly, particularly on the night before the decision was taken and the Cabinet meeting itself. One should note the timeline. On 16 July at 8 p.m., health officials e-mailed the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform attaching the Department’s final list. The list had grown to 35, south Dublin had come off the list and Swords and Balbriggan - both in the Minister’s Dublin North constituency - had been added, along with Oranmore. Swords ranked 130th on the earlier list of the then Minister of State, Deputy Shortall, while Balbriggan ranked 44th. The Cabinet meeting was on 17 July. Health officials informed the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform that “there are changes to last night’s list”. Castlecomer and Oranmore were no longer on the list, while Ballaghaderreen and Kilkenny had been added.
Does the Taoiseach accept the observation of the then Minister of State, Deputy Shortall, that this documentation gives the lie to the excuses and justifications offered by the Minister, Deputy Reilly, on the selection of the sites? Does the Taoiseach also accept that the Minister got it wrong - and that he and the Tánaiste got it wrong in supporting such a decision-making process, which was by any standards of objective observation a poor performance and wrong decision by the Minister on the selection of the sites which are commercially valuable and important in terms of multi-million euro investments?