Halligan wants more time to consider future
Independent minister John Halligan has said he won't decide whether or not to quit the government until doctors from his local hospital have examined a report that says it doesn't need a second lab for cardiac care.
Health Minister Simon Harris yesterday published the clinical review of cardiac services in University Hospital Waterford.
Dr Niall Herity's report recommends additional opening hours for the lab, more staff and additional equipment. Crucially, as far as Mr Halligan is concerned, it stated that a second cathorisation laboratory is not justified.
Mr Harris said he accepted this finding.
Mr Halligan said local hospital consultants have asked him to stay on and "for the time being, I'm still in government".
However, there is growing pressure from both Fine Gael and Mr Halligan's fellow Independent TDs for the matter to be resolved. Consideration is also being given to the prospect of him leaving government.
Alliance TDs Shane Ross and Kevin 'Boxer' Moran have also approached other Independent deputies with the view to replacing Mr Halligan if he does decide to jump ship.
One Independent TD approached - Tipperary's Mattie McGrath - said he'd have to consult with his family and supporters on the matter.
The Alliance insisted that they remained supportive of Mr Halligan - and that they would not give him an ultimatum about when he needed to make a decision - but said that the situation needs to be "resolved".
Meanwhile, a government spokesman said: "It's in everyone's interests now that the matter is brought to a conclusion."
Independent Minister Katherine Zappone - who is not in the Alliance - said that everyone in government "will do whatever we need in order to ensure the stability.
"Ultimately if that means we have to look for other people to join us, then that's what we would do," she said.
Speaking on his local radio station Mr Halligan claimed that Fine Gael Minister Michael Noonan told him during government formation talks that the clinical review of cardiac services was "only a formality" and that the lab "will be delivered".
A spokesman for Mr Noonan said the commitment given to Mr Halligan was that the cathorisation lab would be developed "subject to a favourable recommendation from an independent clinical review".