Michael Noonan back ‘on the road’ after pneumonia

Alan Owens


Alan Owens

Minister Michael Noonan with Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform Brendan Howlin at the Department of Finance press conference. Picture: Damien Eagers/Irish Independent
FINANCE minister Michael Noonan has insisted he is “back on the road again” despite a bout of pneumonia over Christmas.

FINANCE minister Michael Noonan has insisted he is “back on the road again” despite a bout of pneumonia over Christmas.

Appearing at a press conference in the Department of Finance on Tuesday, Mr Noonan said his illness over Christmas was a chest infection that “failed to respond to antibiotics which developed into pneumonia”.

The long serving Limerick TD, 72, “subsequently underwent some medical procedures”, as he indicated several weeks ago, and spent Christmas Day in hospital.

He told the gathered press corps this week that he was “back on the road again now and the double act here continues,” a reference to his ministerial colleague Brendan Howlin.

Mr Noonan declined to discuss the illness or length of stay in further detail with the Limerick Leader with his spokesperson saying that the minister had “nothing to add beyond” the comments made at the press conference.

In the statement he released on December 28, Mr Noonan said he was “looking forward to contesting the upcoming general election”, expected to take place in February or March.

Sources close to Mr Noonan said he was “absolutely” confident of his health being in proper order for the election.

The father of five has repeatedly committed to contesting the general election in Limerick city, most recently in an extended interview with the Limerick Leader.

He has also insisted he wants to be returned to the Department of Finance if the party is re-elected to government.

“I’m after five budgets now and it’s for the public to judge, but from my perspective the country is more or less sorted out again now. The job now is to keep the recovery going – so I would like to spend another couple of years to make sure the recovery continues to go forward,” he said.

Minister Noonan has suffered from a number of health scares in recent years, including a heart bypass operation in 2007. In 2014 he was diagnosed with a sarcoma on his right arm and had to undergo surgery. He was told the prognosis was good, with a low risk of recurrence.

Asked in recent weeks by Leader editor Alan English if he gave any serious consideration to not running this time, he replied: “Not this time, no. I did in the past. But once the crisis hit and I was finance spokesman in 2010 I felt I had an obligation to make a contribution.”

Depending on Fine Gael’s success in the next election and on the Taoiseach’s wishes, Noonan has said he wishes to continue in his role as Minister for Finance depending on “where the chips fall and which groups are in coalition.

“But we are working on the assumption that it will be Labour again and that it will be a Fine Gael/Labour government,” he said.