John Halligan changes mind on resignation after row over health services

Junior minister John Halligan has stepped back from resigning after a row engulfed the Government over the future of health services in Waterford.

The Independent Alliance minister was close to securing a new deal last night for upgrades at Waterford Hospital after a standoff between him and Health Minister Simon Harris.

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 yesterday 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 last night and Mr Harris over the impasse. A revised package for services at the hospital was being examined, Alliance sources said, which would hopefully appease Mr Halligan’s supporters.

The row over cardiac services had threatened the Government with suggestions ‘substitute’ TDs were even being considered if Mr Halligan resigned.

Despite the climbdown by Mr Halligan, questions will be asked as to how long the minority government can last. The new row follows previous disagreements over abortion legislation as well as the Apple tax judgement.


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