Sunday 23 October 2016

Comment: Colleagues already talking about replacement

Published 08/09/2016 | 02:30

John Halligan TD outside Leinster House. Photo: Gareth Chaney Collins
John Halligan TD outside Leinster House. Photo: Gareth Chaney Collins

It's more than telling that even before TDs finished their breakfast on Wednesday, figures within the Independent Alliance were already speculating about a potential replacement for their own colleague John Halligan.

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In fact, a number of government ministers had been openly predicting that Mr Halligan would walk the plank once this new, albeit precarious, administration got underway.

Let's be clear: It is perfectly reasonable for any TD to wear their heart on their sleeve when it comes to their own constituencies.

The staff and patients of Waterford General Hospital, as well as their families, are John Halligan's people.

Many of them voted for him in the General Election, partly due to his campaign work in relation to services at the local hospital.

And so, he feels a duty to fight for their interests.

But the events of the last 24 hours paint a sorry picture of a minister who appears more and more ill-suited to serving in government.

The Programme for Government did not at any stage promise a second catheterisation laboratory, or cath lab as it is described, for Mr Halligan's local hospital.

Instead, an independent review was promised and carried out. You would expect most ministers to come out publicly and say they respect the findings of the review, even if the outcomes are not those they desired.

But as we all know, Mr Halligan is different.

His reaction to the findings of the review - conducted by an eminently qualified medical professional - has been somewhat extraordinary.

The minister did not object once to the decision to appoint Belfast-based cardiologist Niall Herity to head up the exercise.

And so, for Mr Halligan to describe the review as "flawed" and "outrageous" is not only shocking, but also insulting to its author and the wider medical profession.

But Halligan emotional reaction is not the most disconcerting aspect to this episode.

More worrying is the fact that it paints a concerning picture of the stability of this government.

Irish Independent

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