'Parish pump politics is just part of who I am', says minister
Junior Minister Finian McGrath has defended "parish pump" politics, insisting that he and other Independent Alliance ministers are right to push for services in their own constituencies.
Mr McGrath said securing agreement for the start of the planning phase of a new €40m Emergency Department (ED) at Beaumont Hospital was one of his highlights from last year.
The Junior Disabilities Minister is also pressing for a new cystic fibrosis unit for the hospital, which is located in the heart of his Dublin Bay North constituency.
However, he made no apologies for what he himself described as "local parish pump stuff", saying it is "part of who I am".
He also argued that new services at Beaumont would benefit patients from other areas, too.
Independent Alliance ministers have taken flack from opposition politicians for campaigning for services in their own constituencies, notably Transport Minister Shane Ross's campaign to have Stepaside Garda Station reopened.
However, Mr McGrath said: "I think Shane was right to fight for Stepaside."
He also said Junior Training and Skills Minister John Halligan was "100pc" justified in seeking additional cardiac care services for Waterford Hospital.
Mr McGrath pointed to extra funding he secured for disabilities in the Budget as another of his highlights from 2017, which he described as "a mixture of national issues and local parish pump stuff".
He said that "they're all important and they're all equally valuable".
Asked what he would say to people who criticise parish pump politics, Mr McGrath said: "I'm elected in Dublin Bay North to represent my constituents and I want to get as many services into that area as possible. That's my job as a TD."
However, he also argued that the new ED at Beaumont Hospital and the proposed cystic fibrosis unit would be used by patients from the surrounding counties.
"So it's a public health issue and as far as I'm concerned people are slagging me about it being parish pump but that's part of who I am," Mr McGrath added.
He said that deal-making is in his "gene pool".