JUNIOR Minister John Halligan has been accused of playing parish pump politics at a national level by threatening to bring down the Government because of lack of investment in his own constituency.
Last May, in negotiations with Fine Gael, the Independent TD secured a deal for millions of euro to extend the runway at Waterford Airport. He was also promised a second catheterisation laboratory at University Hospital Waterford but that promise was broken, prompting him to threaten to resign.
While the airport deal certainly smacks of parish pumpery the case for UHW is sounder and his stand on it more creditable. An independent review has found no need for a second cath lab at the hospital but in 2014 the Health Service Executive identified reliance on one lab as posing a severe clinical risk to the people of the south-east.
Mr Halligan is caught between a rock and a hard place. If he continues to serve in government he risks being accused of allowing himself to be bullied. But if he resigns to the backbenches his constituents will hardly thank him for losing whatever leverage he currently has.
Mr Halligan asserts that the review is flawed but it appears to be very comprehensive and says a better staffed single lab is the answer. In any event, surely the issue is the welfare of patients rather than getting hung up on whether two labs are better than one.
© Irish Examiner Ltd. All rights reserved