Noonan says he is fine after chest operation
MICHAEL Noonan has insisted he will return to Cabinet next week and stand in the General Election next year.
The Finance Minister's comments came as it emerged he had spent Christmas in hospital after what he said were "surgical procedures" to deal with fluid in his chest.
The surgery, carried out early last week, was only revealed last night and many close Cabinet colleagues were not informed.
Political sources last night insisted Mr Noonan's hospitalisation "has no implications" for the upcoming General Election. It is still expected to be called in late January, with polling day in late February.
The 72-year-old Finance Minister's candidature is seen as part of the Fine Gael strategy to push a message of "stability and continuity to ensure economic recovery".
Rumours the Minister was seriously ill were a cause of concern to the party strategists.
Mr Noonan himself took the unusual step last night of issuing a personal statement about his health, insisting he was "now well on the mend".
The Limerick City TD had heart surgery in 2007 and was treated with radiotherapy for cancer in summer 2014.