Tánaiste 'satisfied' with Reilly's explanation, Opposition says questions remain

Thursday 12 July 2012 22.20
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James Reilly made a personal statement in the Dáil last night
James Reilly made a personal statement in the Dáil last night
The debt stems from an investment in the Greenhills nursing home in Co Tipperary
The debt stems from an investment in the Greenhills nursing home in Co Tipperary

Tánaiste Eamon Gilmore has said he accepts and is satisfied with Minister for Health James Reilly's statement about a nursing home investment.

Mr Gilmore said that he does not believe Mr Reilly has a conflict of interest.

The Tánaiste said if the Opposition has questions, it can raise them with the Standards in Public Office Commission or the Committee on Members' Interests.

Minister Reilly told the Dáil last night he was confident that agreement can be reached in the dispute, which has seen his name appear as a debtor in Stubbs Gazette.

The minister made his statement in response to the controversy surrounding the unpaid debt of €1.9m.

He said he had at all times sought to comply with the codes expected of his office and that the unpaid debt was due to complicated litigation surrounding the investment.

Deputy Jonathan O'Brien of Sinn Féin said Dr Reilly was attempting to sell his interest in a private, for profit, nursing home at a time when he was closing public nursing homes. He said this had an impact on the value of nursing homes.

Speaking during Leaders' Questions, Mr O'Brien said it appeared that the minister was in breach of SIPO guidelines in the period following Mr Reilly’s taking office in March 2011 until 12 January 2012.

Mr O'Brien asked Eamon Gilmore if he believed the SIPO should investigate the matter.

In response, the Tánaiste said that there are procedures in place to deal with any member of the House having private business interests.

Mr Gilmore said that the Minister for Health had outlined the manner in which he had complied with these procedures, and that he had sought the advice of SIPO and had complied with that advice.

Sinn Féin's Health Spokesperson Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin said Minister Reilly still has questions to answer.

Speaking on RTÉ's Morning Ireland, Mr Ó Caoláin said it was clear from Dr Reilly's statement that he had not been in compliance with the Ethics in Public Office Act for a number of months.

"Make no mistake about it, it is absolutely clear from what he said last night, that he was most certainly not in compliance for at least almost ten months," Mr Ó Caoláin said.

Speaking on the same programme, Fine Gael's Damien English said that Dr Reilly had followed the rules.

Mr English said the minister had tried in all cases to put a distance between himself and his businesses.

Fianna Fáil has said it was a serious matter for a minister to be in breach of a High Court order.