Thursday 27 October 2016

Halligan continues to dither: Noonan promised me a second cath lab

Cormac McQuinn Political Correspondent

Published 08/09/2016 | 10:26

Junior minister John Halligan. Pic Tom Burke
Junior minister John Halligan. Pic Tom Burke

INDEPENDENT Minister John Halligan has claimed that Fine Gael ministers promised him that the government would deliver a second cathorisation laboratory for Waterford Hospital regardless of the outcome of a clinical review.

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Mr Halligan is on the brink of leaving the minority government after review of cardiac services at the hospital - carried out by an NHS doctor found that a second cath lab wasn't needed.

A senior government source insisted that no commitment to provide a second cath lab was given to Mr Halligan, that all that was promised was a clinical review of cardiac services at the hospital. 

Crisis talks aimed at keeping him in government broke up late last night. He remains undecided on what he will  do this morning.

Speaking on his local radio station WLR this morning, Mr Halligan claimed that ministers Michael Noonan and Simon Coveney promised him that a second lab would be funded regardless of what the review said.

Mr Halligan insists that a second cath lab is needed saying that the hospital caters for 506,000 people in the south east.

He said: "The HSE itself in 2014 identified the lack of a second cath lab at being a severe clinical risk."

And he claimed he was told by Fine Gael ministers that it would be delivered by the government.

"During the negotiations Michael Noonan - and all of my negotiating team were there at the time with the Indpendent Alliance said: 'look John this review is only a formality, Fine Gael cannot be seen to be doing political favours for anybody. The cath lab will be delivered'," Mr Halligan said.

He added: "Simon Coveney said during the negotiations 'John if you don't sign up and you don't agree to this we will deliver the second cath lab for Waterford anyway'.

"The people of Waterford and the south-east have to ask what has happened in the intervening period," Mr Halligan said.

Mr Halligan says he is seeking a second review, this time with the terms of reference decided with the involvement of doctors in Waterford and the Independent Alliance.

At lunchtime, Mr Halligan's Independent Alliance colleague Kevin 'Boxer' Moran TD told RTÉ Radio he wants to see the Waterford Deputy remain in government.

He said: "In government John will better serve the people of Waterford than outside."

A spokesman for Mr Noonan responded to Mr Halligan's remarks saying:

"On page 59 of the Programme for a Partnership Government it is clear that the Government have made a commitment on this subject."

He quoted the section which states:

"We are 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”.

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