Halligan threatens to resign should FG call for Ross’s head

Minister of State John Halligan, pictured with Independent Alliance colleague and Transport Minister Shane Ross.

Minister of State John Halligan, pictured with Independent Alliance colleague and Transport Minister Shane Ross.

Justine Dwyer
Minister of State John Halligan has threatened to resign from Government if Fine Gael pressurises his fellow Independent Alliance member Shane Ross to step down from his Ministerial brief.

In an Irish Times interview on Thursday last, Minister Halligan claimed that Fine Gael had been wrongly and unfairly critical of the Minister for Transport and had attempted to back him into a corner.

“Shane Ross is a good guy. I am completely loyal to him,” Mr Halligan said. “I know that if he came under pressure, if the Government continue to make a push on him, I will go with him. I wouldn’t have to think twice about it.”

He further admitted he has had difficulties with Jobs Minister Mary Mitchell O’Connor over job announcements in Waterford, adding it was unfair that some of these announcements were not being made by him. “I felt some of the smaller announcements could have been made by me,” he stated.

And he once again claimed he would reconsider his position in Government if a second cath lab was not provided at University Hospital Waterford (UHW).

However, he acknowledged he faced an uphill battle to convince Health Minister Simon Harris of the necessity for such a move. “I believe if common costing, common sense and decency prevail, that (the cath lab) will be delivered. If they do not deliver that, I could be in serious trouble. I would have to consider my position.

“If (Fine Gael) do not deliver this, I will not lose my seat but Fine Gael will not have a seat in the constituency. There is no doubt in my mind about this. They have one now, they won’t have one after this.”

Yet Minister Halligan also maintained that the current Government would last two or three years, despite warning that he would withdraw his support.
“We need stability. I don’t think any party wants an election. If we can make sure everybody’s treated with fairness and dignity, and I’m talking about everybody on both sides of the government, then it will last,” he said.

The Minister for Training, Skills and Innovation is one of five members of the Independent Alliance who are supporting the Fine Gael-led Government.
Speaking to The Irish Times, John Halligan said he had no allegiance to Fine Gael and his decision to continue to back the party depended on a number of factors.

“I want to be treated with respect and dignity,” he said. “I deserve that as a member of this Government. And if I come out fighting, I quote the Spartans and I quote King Leonidas. The biggest battle ever for democracy was the Battle of Thermopylae against the Persian army.

“When he knew they were all going to be killed, King Leonidas went to them and whispered in their ears: ‘If we have to die, from them take everything and give them nothing.’ That is my motto, and it might come to that.”

Minister Halligan’s comments were labelled as “tiresome” by Deputy David Cullinane (SF). “Threatening to resign from Government every five minutes is naive at best and embarrassing at worst,” wrote Deputy Cullinane on his Facebook page.

“John has managed to alienate himself from those he serves in Government with and those he previously worked in opposition with.

“He concedes that he has an uphill battle to convince the Minister for Health on issues relating to UHW but as a former Workers Party councillor threatens to resign in solidarity with right wing Minister Shane Ross. Waterford and the south east needs a Minister with a plan, a regional mindset and the capability to deliver not one chasing the cheap media headlines.”

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