The Government faces the renewed risk of losing a TD on Wednesday during a vote on the relocation of the National Maternity Hospital.
The prospect of TDs voting against the Government in the wake of Cabinet approval for the controversial move appeared to have receded as the Coalition indicated it would not oppose a Sinn Féin Dáil motion calling for public ownership of the site.
However, the Rural Independent Group opposed the Sinn Féin motion and called for a vote on Wednesday night. If 10 TDs call for a vote on Wednesday evening, the full house must vote on the Sinn Féin motion.
It raises fresh doubts over the future of Dublin Central Green Party TD Neasa Hourigan, who on Tuesday evening indicated that she will vote with the Opposition.
“Although the Sinn Féin motion is not binding, I will be supporting the motion in order to formally register my objection to the National Maternity Hospital proceeding in its current format.”
Her party colleague, Dublin South Central TD Patrick Costello, was also sharply critical of the Cabinet decision, but his voting intentions could not be ascertained on Tuesday evening.
“I need to take some time to reflect on this,” he said on Tuesday night. “Voting against the whip and voting against the Government is not something a Government TD should be doing lightly so I need to take some time to reflect on my vote and the consequences of that,” he told the Tonight Show on Virgin Media.
It is understood the Green Party will wait until the result of any vote before deciding what to do if deputies do not vote with the Government.
The relocation of the National Maternity Hospital (NMH) from Holles Street in Dublin to St Vincent’s was on Tuesday approved by Cabinet.
There are fears in some quarters that potential lingering religious influence could mean abortions or fertility treatment would not be allowed to take place at the new hospital. Questions have also been raised about why the land is not being sold or gifted to the State.
Such concerns have been dismissed by the Government and the hospital’s supporters in the medical community.