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Fine Gael TD criticises John Halligan's 'extraordinary' comments about colleagues

An ongoing row about cardiac care services in Waterford could have serious consequences for the Government.

John Halligan
John Halligan
Image: Leon Farrell/RollingNews.ie

JOHN HALLIGAN’S FUTURE in the Government remains unclear after he again hit out at his Fine Gael colleagues.

The Minister of State for Skills and Training has been threatening to leave the Fine Gael-led minority government if a second catheterisation lab, which specialises in examining the heart, isn’t opened at University Hospital Waterford.

In an interview with the Sunday Independent, Halligan said: “I will bring all hell down on top of them if they don’t deliver this.”

The Independent Alliance member accused three Fine Gael ministers, Michael Noonan, Simon Coveney and Simon Harris, of “dirty politics” in relation to the issue.

“What they should do now, if they believe I am destabilising the Government, is put me out. F*** ‘em. Put me out. I don’t care. If that’s what they want to do, put me out. But I know what I am doing is right and honourable.”

Speaking to RTÉ News today, Halligan said he regrets it “has come to this”, adding he does not want to leave the Government but will if he has to.

Fine Gael TD Noel Rock told This Week Halligan’s interview with the newspaper was “extraordinary” and the “inflammatory language” he used wasn’t helpful.

‘We want to get on with our work’

When contacted by TheJournal.ie about Halligan’s comments, a Fine Gael spokesperson said: “The Programme for Government committed to the development of a second cath lab in University Hospital Waterford, subject to a favourable recommendation from an independent clinical review of the needs of the region to be carried out within six weeks.”

The spokesperson said the Belfast-based cardiologist, Dr Niall Herity, who completed the review is “highly respected”.

Dr Herity has made clear recommendations that a second cardiac cath lab at UHW is not justified and Minister Simon Harris and Fine Gael accept this. However, he also recommends investing in UHW to enhance the existing cardiac services, including increasing the number of weekly sessions currently provided, in order to address waiting times and to provide improved access for patients.

The spokesperson said the Government has “a large job of work to do now implementing all of the Programme for Government and working to make people’s lives better”, adding: “We want to get on with that work.”

The arrangement between Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil that allows the former to lead a minority government is dependent on them having the support of at least 58 members of the Dáil.

Currently the party has the support of 59 TDs, including Fine Gael members, the Independent Alliance, Katherine Zappone and Michael Lowry, who was formerly a Fine Gael minister.

Read: The man who reviewed Waterford’s cardiac care defends decision on no second lab

Read: What’s going to happen to the government if Halligan resigns?

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Órla Ryan

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