HEALTH Minister James Reilly is vowing to take the stairs in future after being trapped in a lift at the country's newest psychiatric hospital yesterday.
Dr Reilly, along with junior health minister Kathleen Lynch, was among an entourage of dignitaries who excitedly packed into the lift at the impressive €22m Phoenix Care Centre in north Dublin yesterday.
The minister was about to embark on a quick tour of facility, which will replace the dilapidated St Brendan's hospital in Grangegorman.
The minister, who is never far from controversy, was hoping the opening of the new facility would divert attention from the row over the scrapping of the mobility allowance.
But he was immobilised himself, and the opening ceremony had to be put on hold. The lift failed to budge despite some frantic pressing of buttons by officials.
Press officer Mark Costigan alerted security.
An engineer was summoned but it took some time before his arrival, prompting some strong-arm action from the minister inside the lift as he tried in vain to wrestle open the door.
Worried staff outside also tried to pull the doors apart – but the drama intensified after the lights in the lift went out.
But the mood remained upbeat while the press snapped the action.
The engineer managed to get the lift moving after about 15 or 20 minutes.
Waiting journalists greeted the chuckling minister and joked about his ordeal, asking who was in charge of the lifts.
The facility will not be taking patients until the end of next month.