Concerns over Stepaside Garda station raised by Independent Alliance
Water charges, housing and Waterford hospital included in talks with Fine Gael
Shane Ross: the Minster for Transport sought assurances from the Taoiseach about Stepaside Garda station. Photograph: Matt Kavanagh
Water charges, housing shortages and services at Waterford University Hospital were also part of the discussion involving the alliance’s five TDs and senior Fine Gael figures including the Taoiseach and Tánaiste.
Minster for Transport Shane Ross sought assurances from Enda Kenny about the Garda station, one of six which the programme for government contains a commitment to reopen. Stepaside was closed in 2012 when a decision was made by the previous Fine Gael-led government to shut 100 Garda stations.
It is understood Mr Ross was told by Minister for Justice Frances Fitzgerald that the Government had no control over over the matter. Ms Fitzgerald said Garda Commissioner Nóirín O’Sullivan would have the final say on which stations reopen and when.
Mr Ross said he was fully committed to the station reopening and raised concern about the Government’s position on its future.
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Minister for Finance Michael Noonan, Minister for Public Expenditure Paschal Donohoe and Minister for Housing Simon Coveney were also at the meeting between the minority Government partners which lasted for an hour and a half.
Minister of State for Research and Innovation John Halligan raised Waterford University Hospital, citing concerns raised by hospital consultants about waiting lists for cardiac care in the hospital.
A review of services of the hospital recommends against the expansion of cardiac care services, but the Waterford TD is insists these must be an extended.
Speaking to The Irish Times Mr Halligan said: “They recognised the difficulties I face and we discussed a series of options including a mobile lab.”
It is understood the Taoiseach raised concerns about the alliance’s seeking of free votes on issues such as abortion.
Mr Kenny said he did not believe a pattern should be allowed to develop whether a vote of conscience is sought by Ministers on a regular basis.
The alliance insisted they believed a free vote should be facilitated on issues not contained in the Programme for Government.