Friday 30 September 2016

Crisis talks as Independent Alliance Minister John Halligan threatens to pull government support

Kevin Doyle and Cormac McQuinn

Published 07/09/2016 | 10:45

John Halligan: ‘We should give this Government some time’. Photo: Tom Burke
John Halligan: ‘We should give this Government some time’. Photo: Tom Burke

Independent Alliance Minister John Halligan is threatening to pull his support from the government.

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A source told Independent.ie: "Mr Halligan is close to leaving government and he's asking the Independent Alliance to stand by him".

It comes after an independent clinical review of cardiac services at Waterford hospital did not back his demand for a second cathorisation laboratory to be opened there.

The report has recommended extra resources for the hospital, including new equipment, more staff and extra opening hours.

However, it does not recommend the opening of a second cath lab, as sought by Mr Halligan in return for supporting the minority government.

“It was promised in the Programme for Government. It has to be delivered,” Mr Halligan told independent.ie.

The Waterford TD stopped short, however, of threatening to resign. But he has told colleagues that he can no longer stay in government unless the second lab is provided.

The issue has been subject to a review. While Mr Halligan says he has not seen the final draft, he described the review as “flawed”.

It is understood that Health minister Simon Harris is prepared to implement the recommendations of the report but not Mr Halligan's request for the second lab.

Emergency talks between Mr Halligan, Fine Gael and the Independent Alliance are set to take place later this afternoon.

The issue is perhaps the greatest threat to the survival of the minority government.

Mr Halligan has argued that the hospital is not a local issue, that the hospital caters for 500,000 people in the south east. 

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