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Ó Caoláin comments on Reilly statement‏

11 July, 2012 - by Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin TD

Commenting on Health Minister James Reilly's Dáil explanation, Sinn Féin Health spokesperson Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin TD said: 

"Minister Reilly has not dispelled the concerns of those who believe there is a conflict of interest in a Minister for Health presiding over bed reductions in public nursing homes while being an acknowledged stake-holder in a private residential care home. 

"The Minister has left questions unanswered. He chose to make a 'personal explanation' under Dáil standing orders rather than to make his statement and then give Deputies the opportunity to question him. 

"The fact is the Minister, by his own admission, still retains his interest in a private for-profit concern in the health sector. The Minister offered a complex explanation of why he says he has not been able to divest himself of that interest. Yet the Minister clearly gave the impression after the General Election that he had divested himself of that interest. I acknowledge that he sought the guidance of the Standards in Public Office Commission but apparently only in October 2011, a full six months after taking on his Ministerial duties. However, details of his difficulties have only come to light in the wake of his appearance in Stubbs Gazette. 

"The Minister claimed that it is not the case that there is a conflict of interest because he is not the operator of the nursing home. Of course having a stake that may give rise to a conflict of interest does not require the Minister to be the operator, merely to benefit or potentially benefit from the concern in question. 

"The Minister also claimed that there is no conflict of interest because his single interest is the well-being of older people. I would contend that the policy he is pursuing, including the closure of public nursing home beds, is detrimental to the well-being of older people and, at best, is a very misguided policy." 

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