The HSE won’t reveal how much it has paid out on setting up a primary care centre on the outskirts of Longford town because it is “commercially senstive” information.
Councillors were informed by representatives from the public health service provider details concerning the centre at Flancare Business park would not be released at a special meeting of both organisations last week.
Area Manager for the Midlands Region, Joe Ruane said he personally had no role in the selection of sites chosen as potential locations for primary care units.
“The plan is to have five primary care teams in Longford,” said Mr Ruane, as he insisted the vibes coming from service users so far had been largely positive.
Many of those listening on questioned that insistence however.
Cllr Mae Sexton was the first to register her distrust, claiming the issue was one she had been trying to raise for the past six months.
The Independent councillor said besides costings, there were unanswered questions linked to the site’s access and suitability.
“They (issues) have not been addressed,” she told Mr Ruane.
“And it’s rather cowardly to ask you to come here and say it is commercially sensitive.”
Since its grand opening last April, much has been made of the centre’s location on the outskirts of the town and its proximity to Gleann Riada - a housing estate which has been beset by environmental and public health concerns.
“At the end of the day this is public money we are talking about,” continued an increasingly irate Cllr Sexton.
“The roads down there are not even in public ownership. I am a public representative and I am demanding an answer to this.”
Cllr Sexton’s outspoken remarks were not the only ones to be directed at the meeting’s top table.
Former Fianna Fail Cllr Tony Flaherty said he still couldn’t understand why the site was chosen in the first place.
“I just feel building a primary care centre in the middle of a bog is a total disgrace,” he said.
Another Independent councillr , Lanesboro’s M ark Casey asked why the HSE was spending vast sums of public money at a time when cuts of €600m were being talked about.
“Why Flancare when we already have a perfectly good St Joseph’s campus?
“We are in a time where every penny counts. It doesn’t make sense to go outside the town and rent a building on a flood plain,” he said.
Like Cllr Sexton, Cllr Casey said the centre’s positioning was especially puzzling.
“It just defies logic. I personally think it is the mos t bizarre decision yet.”
Cllr Denis Glennon agreed and he asked what the centre’s opening meant for St Joseph’s.
Equally forthright was Cllr Micheal Carrigy who called for the St Joseph’s Care Centre facility to be upgraded.