Thursday 20 July 2017

More 'obair bhaile' needed to end Halligan row

Taoiseach Enda Kenny and Junior Minister John Halligan at St Brigid’s National School in The Coombe, Dublin. Photo: Tom Burke
Taoiseach Enda Kenny and Junior Minister John Halligan at St Brigid’s National School in The Coombe, Dublin. Photo: Tom Burke
Cormac McQuinn

Cormac McQuinn

Taoiseach Enda Kenny was shameless in delivering a pledge to his audience.

He made the promise after consulting with embattled Junior Minister John Halligan and Education Minister Richard Bruton.

The Taioseach lifts a young pupil. Picture Colin Keegan, Collins Dublin.
The Taioseach lifts a young pupil. Picture Colin Keegan, Collins Dublin.

It wasn't a second cardiac lab for Waterford Hospital. Instead, Mr Kenny told the children of St Brigid's Primary School in Dublin that they would get "no obair bhaile" yesterday evening.

It was a popular measure, resulting in a round of applause at the launch of the Action Plan for Education.

Mr Kenny was joined by Independent Alliance minister Mr Halligan at a public event for the first time since the row over Waterford Hospital broke out.

Mr Halligan has considered quitting Government amid the war over what he was or wasn't promised in relation to a second catheterisation lab for his local hospital.

But you'd never know it from the bonhomie on display during the school visit. Mr Kenny - with his newly rediscovered mojo - was singing 'Oró Sé Do Bheath Abhaile' as he entered the hall where the launch was taking place - having just heard a stirring rendition by the school choir.

He sat down, with Mr Bruton taking a chair beside him, only for Mr Kenny to insist "John, sit in the middle here" with a comradely slap on the back as Mr Halligan sat down. The pair bonded on a galactic level in their speeches. Mr Kenny told the children they may end up driving the space stations of the future.

Mr Halligan said his speech "will be like a comet - brilliant, bright and passing very quickly". He said that's because he'd been "doing a lot of speaking in the last week", though he didn't reference the infamous interview where he said he'd "bring all hell down" on the Government if they didn't deliver the lab.

And perhaps he does think he's talked about it enough. Mr Halligan has pulled out of a planned 'Late Late Show' appearance tonight. Given he was appearing on stage with Mr Kenny, is the row all settled? Mr Halligan said he was continuing to do his job as minister for training and skills. "We have had some disagreements within Government which is not unusual and we are endeavouring to work these disagreements through over the next week or two."

"I'm sure it'll come to an agreeable solution," he added. After the last 10 days, others wouldn't be so sure.

Mr Bruton, meanwhile, quipped that Mr Kenny "never lets me off my obair bhaile".

Irish Independent

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