Healy-Rae is rushed to hospital after fiery Dail debate
INDEPENDENT TD Michael Healy-Rae was hospitalised last night after being rushed from the Dail in an ambulance following bitter exchanges during a Budget debate on social-welfare cuts.
Mr Healy-Rae (44) became agitated during the debate, and TDs inside the chamber said he was sweating, with veins visibly protruding from his forehead.
As he was speaking, Junior Agriculture Minister Shane McEntee said to Mr Healy-Rae: "There are tablets for things like that."
Minutes later, Mr Healy-Rae was outside the Dail chamber complaining of pains in his stomach. He was hyperventilating, sweating and was said to have almost collapsed.
He was attended to by Health Minister Dr James Reilly, before being rushed to St James's Hospital where he was kept in overnight for further tests.
Mr Healy-Rae was not contactable last night but his sister Rosemary, who accompanied him to hospital, said he was "doing fine", although she did not elaborate on his illness.
The Kerry South TD was heavily criticising Social Protection Minster Joan Burton in his speech, and Ms Burton was sitting across from him on the government benches.
The pair had a huge row earlier this year when Ms Burton sacked him from the Citizens' Information Board, a position given to him by former Taoiseach Brian Cowen at the behest of his father Jackie Healy-Rae, as part of the deal struck with the Fianna Fail-Green government
During yesterday's Dail debate, Mr Healy-Rae vowed: "I will have my say", before asking Ms Burton about "the misery she will inflict on people".
He also accused Ms Burton of being "sour" because she did not get a finance ministry when the Government was formed in March.
"Twelve months ago, the minister was on this side of the house berating the then government and the people who supported it," Mr Healy-Rae said.
"She called them everything under the sun and went out onto the plinth and said they were treating the people in a disgraceful manner.
"What they were doing at that time was nothing in comparison with what the Government is doing now.
"When she came into her position she was sour because she did not get the ministry she wanted."
He also dubbed her the "minister for lifestyle choice", after an interview Ms Burton gave in which she said some people chose welfare as a lifestyle choice, and then got into a spat with Mr McEntee.
"What did the Minister of State say about me?" Mr Healy-Rae asked angrily, before later saying he would take Mr McEntee "on some other day if he wants a fight".
Mr McEntee said Mr Healy-Rae had no manners, and said he was angry because "the Healy-Raes have no say".
The Social Welfare Bill passed through the Dail yesterday, bringing into law changes announced in the Budget, except the cuts to disability payments.
The cuts to community employment schemes were passed, although these are also being reviewed, and Ms Burton said no viable schemes would be closed because of cutbacks to training and material grants.