How interesting it is that Irish politicians now change their positions almost daily, writes Juno McEnroe

Junior education minister John Halligan at the weekend threatened to bring “all hell” down on the Government over a refusal to upgrade cardiac services in Waterford. However, as we all know, a day or two is a long time in politics.

As you see on the right, the Independent Alliance minister stood trapped beside Taoiseach Enda Kenny bang in front of the television cameras yesterday, swamped by schoolchildren at a launch.

It was the first public outing for the two since the row over the Waterford cath lab.

John Halligan is now quickly sliding back into his foxhole after the row threatened to disrupt relations between Government partners Fine Gael and the Alliance.

He told reporters yesterday the issue of a second lab and services for the South- East were “still being worked out”. That’s a whole lot different from his weekend threats.

Furthermore, the Irish Examiner understands the colourful TD has pulled out of an agreement to speak to RTÉ presenter Ryan Tubridy on tonight’s The Late Late Show.

It had been reported widely this week, but Alliance sources confirmed yesterday Mr Halligan had changed his mind.

“He had committed. But, politically, it would suit if he didn’t. He was adamant about setting the record straight. But something came up in Waterford, which suited. This is moving out of the political realm, into the clinicians,” said a source.

So that’s that then. The truculent minister has literally been put back in his box. Plans for an Alliance pre-Dáil think-in also look dead in the water, partially because Mr Halligan is flying to Slovakia and Japan for work trips in the next two weeks.

The junior minister told reporters: “We’ve had some disagreements in government which is not unusual and we are endeavouring to work through them and see how we can do in the next week or two.”

So much for ministers being “dishonourable” to the Waterford TD or down promises for Waterford Hospital. Mr Halligan, now all magnanimous, has been disarmed until the next time he comes out all fired up.

Enda Kenny knew it well at the school launch yesterday, as he quietly picked up the refrain of the rebel ballad ‘Óró sé do Bheatha Bhaile’ that young pupils at St Brigid’s School at the Coombe, Dublin, had sung earlier.

John Halligan is forgiven and looks like being welcomed home to government.


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