Junior minister John Halligan looks set to resign after a row engulfed the Government over the future of health services in Waterford, writes Juno McEnroe and Fiachra Ó Cionnaith.
The Independent Alliance minister was close to securing a new deal on Wednesday night for upgrades at Waterford Hospital after a standoff between him and Health Minister Simon Harris.
But sources close to the TD said the conclusion 'does not look' promising despite the Government's pledge to improve equipment and resources, increase staff and upgrade services at Waterford Hospital.
Earlier, Mr Halligan had warned the Government might collapse if his demand for increased cardiac care in in Waterford was not met.
However, Taoiseach Enda Kenny and Mr Harris firmly backed a review into care at the hospital which does not recommend a second catherisation laboratory for cardiac cases.
Instead, the review recommends increasing staff levels and better equipment for the hospital. Mr Harris said it was up to clinicians to make decisions for the health services and not politicians.
However, the minister said the report, conducted by Professor Niall Herity, said services in the region needed to be improved. Mr Kenny said the report offered a “series of outcomes and proposals” to help Waterford.
A meeting was held between the Alliance and Mr Harris over the impasse. A revised package for services at the hospital had been examined.
Alliance sources said, which, it was hoped, would appease Mr Halligan’s supporters.
However, it is believed that the deal is unlikely to be approved.
The row over cardiac services had threatened the Government with suggestions ‘substitute’ TDs were even being considered if Mr Halligan resigned. It is understood that Mr Halligan was also trying to secure a second review over cardiac services at the hospital, disagreeing with terms for the initial one done by Prof Herity.
The crisis triggers questions about how long the minority government can last. The new row follows previous disagreements between the two sides of government over abortion legislation as well as the Apple tax judgement.