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Deputy accuses Department of failing to give straight answer on primary care centres

Deputy Billy Kelleher sent a Freedom of Information request to the department of health, who said they regret the need to extend the time to deal with the request.

Image: Sasko Lazarov/Photocall Ireland

DEPUTY BILLY KELLEHER has criticised the Department of Health, saying it is delaying the release of key information relating to Minister James Reilly’s primary health care debacle for a further four weeks.

However, the Department has told TheJournal.ie that this topic has generated very considerable attention, which has led to a significant number of FOI requests being received.

In addition the volume of records which require to be examined is very considerable due to the extensive scope and nature of records held.
The requests received from the Fianna Fail Office are in addition to a number of similar requests from other sources, all of whom have been advised of a similar extension.

The Department said it “regrets the necessity to extend the period for consideration of the requests”. It added that due to the number of requests and the volume of records sought, an extension as allowed for under Section 9 of the FOI Acts 1997 and 2003 was required.

Anyone dissatisfied with this can appeal that decision directly to the Information Commissioner.

Reaction

Fianna Fáil Health Spokesperson Billy Kelleher TD commented:

Given the series of communications failures that we have seen from the Minister on this issue from day one, it was hard to imagine how he or his department could make matters worse.  Unfortunately, they appear to have managed it.
We have tried and failed for weeks to get a straight answer on the simple question of how the Minister decided on the extra locations for primary health care centres.  He has blocked us, misdirected us and evaded a clear explanation at every turn.  In response to comments from the Tánaiste that all documents should be released, we submitted a series of FOI requests to test the sincerity of this view.

Deputy Kelleher described the situation as “genuinely shocking” and said he intends “to pursue this issue until the truth of what actually happened is exposed.”

Read: Quinn angry at being misled over primary care centres answer in Dáil>

Read: ‘No ministerial involvement’ in selecting primary care sites – Gilmore>

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