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Minister forced to change Dail register after 'error' with his nursing home entry

HEALTH Minister James Reilly has been forced to amend his Dail declaration of business interests.

Pressure continued to mount on the ex-GP today after his department was singled out by the Troika for not managing its finances properly.

The EU-IMF bailout team has warned that the €280m deficit in the Department of Health needs to be brought under control.

The comments have drawn comparisons between the minister's management of his personal finances and taxpayers' money.

Last night he had to give further clarification on the exact nature of his dealings with the Greenhills Nursing Home in Tipperary.

However, opposition parties still believe that he has left serious questions unanswered about the €1.9m debt that resulted in him being listed as a debt defaulter in Stubbs Gazette.



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Dr Reilly claims there was an "unintended error" in his original Register of Interests for the Dail.

His declaration from January of this year says he transferred his nursing home interest to a "blind trust as per SIPO advice" -- a reference to contacts with the State ethics watchdog, the Standards In Public Office Commission (SIPO).

But in his statement to the Dail, he revealed he had planned to set up a blind trust -- a legal mechanism where he would have no knowledge of what was happening to it to avoid any conflict of interest -- to manage his nursing home ownership.

However, this needed bank consent and the bank would not agree to it because of the court cases ongoing in relation to the nursing home.

Instead, he transferred power of attorney to a solicitor to deal with his interest in the nursing home as they saw fit on his behalf.

Dr Reilly was also facing questions over revelations in yesterday's Herald that he intervened in an industrial relations dispute at the nursing home 10 years ago.

Despite saying he never had any involvement in the operation of the home, it emerged that he made contact with the Irish Nursing and Midwives Organisation about staffing issues.

In a statement Fianna Fail health spokesman Billy Kelleher said: "It is essential that the Minister for Health make himself available to answers questions in the Dail to address the issues surrounding his involvement in the Greenhills Nursing Home."

He added: "As people open their Evening Herald, they will rightly feel that the minister has not given them the whole story."

hnews@herald.ie