Waterford Independent Alliance TD John Halligan
Further to an as-yet unpublished review finding there is no need for a second catheterisation laboratory to be opened at University Hospital Waterford.
And Independent Alliance TD John Halligan reportedly threatening to resign from Government if a second cathlab is not opened there – as promised during his negotiations to enter into Government with Fine Gael.
Mr Halligan spoke to Sean O’Rourke on RTE this morning.
The Waterford politician told the show he is still in Government “for the time being”.
He also said that, even though he hasn’t seen the review, it is “fatally flawed”.
From their discussion…
John Halligan: “I’m being quite blunt with you on this and they can deny it if they like but I have witnessed, I had witnesses with me, I had a barrister with me, going through the review, that Minister Noonan told me it was a formality, that they couldn’t be seen to be doing a special deal with a politician. Simon Coveney told me that if I did not sign up to the deal [for Government], they would deliver the cathlab anyway. So, I signed up in good faith. I was honourable in signing up and I’ve been honourable with the Government up to now. They’ve been dishonourable with me… The review has turned, the problem with the review is that it is fatally flawed. That there was parts of the review…the terms of the reference were not included in the review.”
Sean O’Rourke: “Yeah but you had long conversations with Simon Harris, the Minister for Health, last evening. And why didn’t you get to see the review at that or why didn’t you…”
Halligan: “We just didn’t get to it and we haven’t even seen it in Waterford here.”
O’Rourke: “Did he refuse to give it to you?’
Halligan: “He said that he would make the review available shortly. I pressed him on it, I said we needed to see it. We haven’t seen it but it’s not so much if I’ve seen the review, Sean. I’m not a medical expert but, as you would imagine, that the Waterford hospital, or the consultants in the Waterford hospital management or the Waterford hospital would see it so they could have a right of reply to the review and this is what the problem is at present. We don’t know what’s in the review – apart from the fact that he did state that we didn’t need the second cathlab.”
O’Rourke: “So, what’s going to happen now?”
Halligan: “Well, what’s going to happen now is I’ve come from a meeting with the hospital, they have asked me, the clinicians in the Waterford hospital not to do anything yet. They’re seeking to look at the review so they can analyse it and show where the review is fatally flawed and then look for a meeting with Minister Harris. And I think, out of courtesy with the hospital, that’s the very least he needs to do and then let’s see where we move from there.”
O’Rourke: “So, just to be absolutely clear about this. You said that there was no issue with Fine Gael, Michael Noonan saying ‘a formality’, Simon Coveney saying ‘we’re going to do this anyway’..”
Halligan: “Yes. Absolutely, why would I tell a lie on that? I have no reason to do that. Simon Coveney told me that, ‘we will deliver’, when talks didn’t look like they were going well, he actually said to me: ‘with or without you, John, we will…by the way, I will say, we will deliver this and we are committed’… He used the terminology here that ‘we are committed to delivering the second cathlab’. Now by the way, I’m not criticising Simon Coveney. I’ve good time for him, I’ve told you that before. But, I felt yesterday when I spoke to him that he seemed to be a bit disappointed and a bit bewildered.”
O’Rourke: “Yes and now you said yesterday I think, to Martina Fitzgerald that this issue had the capacity to bring down the Government. Are your colleagues in the Independent Alliance, are they all standing four-square behind you on this?”
Halligan: “They are, we’ve had a number of meetings at present. This is not what I want to do, Sean. I don’t want to destabilise the Government, contrary to what people might think. They may call me a destabilising character, I’m not. But I do speak my mind, I understand that there are serious issues affecting the country like Brexit, we have a budget to deal with, we have serious issues like Apple and so on. We don’t know what’s coming down the line and I, it’s been difficult enough for me with my ideology to go in an support Fine Gael, which I have done willingly and honourably. And I don’t want to bring the Government and nor do I want to destabilise the Government.”
O’Rourke: “If you resign, will the others resign along with you, Minister Ross and the others?”
Halligan: “I have no idea, Sean. I think… I’m not being smart at all with you, obviously, I don’t know..”
O’Rourke: “Sure if they’re four-square behind you, they have to resign?”
Halligan: “Well, they said they are behind me like so they’ll have to make that decision. To be quite frank with you, I’ll be honest with you again, I wouldn’t like to see the Government destabilised. I think they’ve broken their promise on this. I’m deeply disappointed they’ve done this. I’m hoping there may be some way through this in the next couple of days. If there’s not, I’ll be back on your show again.”
O’Rourke: “Saying what?”
Halligan: “Well I don’t know but I’ll be saying something different to what I’m saying now…”
O’Rourke: “Is it possible that if they don’t change their stance, as we understand it to be today, and if they don’t deliver the commitment they say they gave you, for the second lab, is it possible that all could happen and you could still stay in Government?”
Halligan: “I think that would be very difficult but what I’m saying now is that, having met the hospital and the clinicians in the hospital that they now are saying, let’s take this out of politics. Give us the review, let us critically analyse this review because we do know, we know that the review is faulty. We know that it didn’t include terms of reference…”
O’Rourke: “So, they’re saying, ‘don’t take any precipitative action… there’s a bit of ‘hold me coat’ about this now, John, listening to you.”
O’Rourke: “There’s a bit of ‘hold me coat’ about this?”
Halligan: “No, Sean, look, I mean I want to do what’s right for the country, but I also want to do what’s right for Waterford. If I still think I can get this over the line, over a couple of weeks or a couple of days, I’ll try. If I can’t get it over the line, I’m going to have to review my position.”
Listen back in full here
Previously: Halligan’s Ball