Somehow, I don’t think the controversy of Minister for Health James Reilly and his involvement in the selection of primary care centre sites, is going to dissipate despite it being a new year. Just before Christmas, there was a particularly testy exchange between the Opposition and Government on the last day before the break for Christmas, and amid a distinct absence of Seasonal goodwill, serious allegations were made and the Opposition was invited to step outside and repeat those allegations in an environment where they would no longer enjoy parliamentary privilege. We also found out during the exchange that an internal audit report was produced in October 2012, which concluded there was no political interference in the selection of controversial sites in the Minister’s own constituency. That report might provide a few more loose threads to be pulled at during the coming session…
And because I can’t find it elsewhere in the media free online, this blogpost is to report that it has also emerged that the Minister for Health is suing the Mail on Sunday for defamation arising from an article apparently published on 7th October 2012 and which was the subject of an apology by the Mail on Sunday on 21st October 2012.
On 7th November 2012, the Minister launched an action in Dublin’s High Court – the reference is 2012/11254 P. The respondents are named by the Court Service as Associated Newspapers Limited and Associated Newspapers [Ireland] Limited, both represented by William Fry solicitors – Associated Newspapers is the publisher of the Daily Mail and Mail on Sunday. The Minister himself is represented by O’Connor solicitors. Yesterday, the 25th January 2013, Minister Reilly lodged an affidavit in the case, it looks as if it is proceeding.
The Phoenix Magazine – seriously worth a read, this issue – reported that, although the Minister received an apology, he is still pursuing damages against the Mail on Sunday.
We hardly need repeat the details of the story which has given rise to the proceedings, but in outline, it seems the Mail on Sunday mis-reported a property transaction involving the Minister in the 2000s.
UPDATE: 10th April, 2013. The case has been scheduled for hearing at the High Court on 4th June 2013.