Fianna Fáil turns up pressure on Halligan to quit the Government
Fianna Fáil has ramped up the pressure on Independent junior minister John Halligan to quit the Government.
There was dismay within Fine Gael and the Independent Alliance yesterday at the fallout from a controversial interview the Waterford TD gave to the 'Sunday Independent'.
Using strong and profane language, Mr Halligan accused Fine Gael of "dirty politics" and a "stitch-up" over failures to deliver on his demands for a second coronary care facility at Waterford University Hospital. He also dubbed his own colleague Kevin 'Boxer' Moran "an idiot" after Mr Moran suggested he should have accepted a compromise.
Mr Halligan also said he would deliver dire consequences for the Government as he challenged the leadership to sack him. "What they should do now, if they believe I am destabilising the Government, is put me out. F**k 'em. Put me out," he told the 'Sunday Independent'.
Mr Moran and others in the Independent Alliance declined to comment. "On John Halligan, my lips are sealed. I am committed to the Budget and the Programme for Government," Mr Moran said.
But others close to the Independent Alliance conceded they were dismayed by Mr Halligan again stoking up the row, which had raged all last week, and the type of language used by him.
"We were hoping to be getting down to the business of the Budget and other matters," the source said.
Fianna Fáil, whose support is needed to keep the Coalition in office, intervened in the row with its science spokesman, James Lawless, saying he believed John Halligan was not doing the job he was appointed to in Government. "In the Dáil, when the issues around his portfolio are debated, I am left looking across the chamber at an empty chair. He was given the important job of promoting science, technology and innovation but I see no evidence of him doing his job," said Mr Lawless, a new TD for Kildare North.
Mr Halligan could not be contacted for comment yesterday. But he told RTÉ he had no intention of resigning.
Fine Gael sources indicated they had no intention of pushing for his removal from his junior ministry, for the present at least.
Government Chief Whip Regina Doherty said she hoped Mr Halligan would continue in office. But Government sources again insisted they were not going to make any further concessions to him on the issue.
Fine Gael rank-and-file TDs remained extremely annoyed at Mr Halligan's behaviour, with many saying it was past time he left Government. The party's Cork South West TD, Jim Daly, said Mr Halligan should quit.
"It would be best for all now if he just left Government," Mr Daly said.
Mr Halligan insists he was promised a second hospital heart facility in coalition negotiations last spring by ministers Simon Coveney and Michael Noonan. Both insist the promise was contingent on a favourable medical review, but the subsequent report came down against a second facility.