Taoiseach says Smith controversy is over

The Taoiseach, Bertie Ahern, has told journalists that, as far as he is concerned, the controversy surrounding Defence Minister Michael Smith’s opposition to the Hanly Report is over.

The Taoiseach, Bertie Ahern, has told journalists that, as far as he is concerned, the controversy surrounding Defence Minister Michael Smith’s opposition to the Hanly Report is over.

Mr Smith issued an apology to Mr Ahern on Friday for publicly stating his opposition to the downgrading of Nenagh hospital, which is in his constituency of north Tipperary.

The downgrading of the hospital was one of a number of controversial recommendations contained in the Hanly Report on hospital reform.

Reports this morning suggested that Mr Smith was facing the sack from the cabinet because he disagreed with the Government’s support for the report.

Mr Ahern was questioned about this at a function in Dublin today, but he refused to be drawn.

He also said that the reforms contained in the Hanly Report would be implemented over a 10-year period and that local groups in an areas affected by the reforms would be consulted.

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