Waterford hospital row: Fine Gael think-in to discuss John Halligan's threat to quit

Independent Alliance minister threatens to 'rain hell' if UHW is not provided with second cath lab

john halligan

Minister of State John Halligan outside Leinster House | File photo: RollingNews.ie

Junior minister John Halligan's threat to take down the government will be discussed at a Fine Gael parliamentary party think-in in Kildare today.

The Independent Alliance TD warned last week that he would "rain hell" on Leinster House if extra cardiac services could not be provided to his local hospital in Waterford.

In an interview with the Sunday Independent, Mr Halligan indicated that he was prepared to "walk away" if his demand for a second cath lab is not met.

Turning on his government colleagues, he accused Fine Gael of a "stitch-up" and three Fine Gael ministers of "dirty politics".

Minister for Health Simon Harris told Newstalk this weekend that had no intention of overturning the recommendations of a clinical review, which found that a second lab was not needed at University Hospital Waterford.

The programme for government committed to developing a second cath lab "subject to a favourable recommendation from an independent clinical review".

The assessment was demanded by the Waterford TD, who had expected it to support the provision of increased services at the hospital.

But analysis undertaken by Belfast-based Dr Niall Herity indicated that the needs of the catchment area could be accommodated in a single cath lab.

It did, however, recommend investing in existing cardiac services, including increasing the number of weekly sessions currently provided, to address waiting times and provide improved access for patients.

The row has undermined the stability of the Fine Gael government, which needs a minimum of 58 votes in the Dáil. Currently, with Minister Halligan, it has just 59.

Today's Fine Gael meeting will also discuss the Budget, Brexit and Apple's tax bill, as well as its poor general election results.