Ireland: A taste of pork-barrel politics

The building of a 40-bed community hospital and a route around Tralee could be all that stands between Ireland passing a new austerity budget or having to go to Brussels for a bailout.

The government's hopes of passing cuts and avoiding a snap election rest on the votes of two independent MPs after its majority fell to just three votes this week

Jackie Healy-Rae, a rural publican, is one of the two MPs. Yesterday, the Kerry man warned the government against shelving plans for a new €8 million (7m) hospital in Kenmare and ditching the €137m Tralee bypass.

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Mr Healy-Ray, 79, the oldest member of the lower house, voted against the government for the first time since 1997 in June over a bill banning stag hunting.