Housing Minister Simon Coveney has denied claims from John Halligan that he promised to bring a second cath lab to University Hospital Waterford in return for the Independent Alliance’s minister’s government support.
The senior Fine Gael TD insisted there has been no “trickery” from his party on the issue, as he rejected suggestions that the latest coalition crisis shows the Government is now “stumbling from one problem to another”.
Speaking at a regeneration launch of the St Theresa Garden’s flat complex in Dublin, Mr Coveney said he never told Mr Halligan a second cath lab was guaranteed for the hospital.
Instead, he said the deal was that a second facility would be provided on condition an independent clinical review backed the plan, and that this is clearly written in the Programme for Government “in black and white”.
“I’ve spoken to John twice in the last couple of hours. What we did in the government formation negotiations was we spent a long time teasing out what was needed in terms of a commitment for Waterford hospital.
“There is a commitment to build a second cath lab in Waterford but it has to be on the back of a recommendation from a clinical review. You cannot and should not be making investment decisions on care on the basis of politics, it has to be on the back of medical independent reviews. So we are going to implement the recommendation of the independent report,” he said.
Mr Coveney said Fine Gael remains committed to “investing” in the South-East facility “whether John is a member of government or not”, and rejected suggestions there was any “trickery” from his party during the government talks.
Despite the cath lab issue being the latest in a series of controversies to cause rifts in the Coalition, Mr Coveney said he has “a good relationship with him [John Halligan] and I still do”, adding he “hopes he’ll stay in government with us”.
When asked if he and his Fine Gael colleagues were becoming tired of the seemingly weekly crisis management with their government colleagues, the housing minister said this was not the case and “I don’t think we’re stumbling from one problem to another”.
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