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Tuesday, 11 April 2017


11‭ ‬April‭ ‬1951:‭ ‬Dr.‭ ‬Noel Browne resigned from John A.‭ ‬Costello’s Coalition Government as Minister of Health on this day.‭ ‬It was seminal moment in Modern Irish Politics.‭ ‬To many people it looked like the Catholic Church was dictating Government policy from the outside.‭

Browne had been elected a TD in‭ ‬1948‭ ‬and was appointed the Minister of Health on his first day in the House.‭ ‬Given his medical background and his work in sanatoriums both in Ireland and England he was the right man in the right place at the right time.‭ ‬He was a survivor of TB himself‭ – ‬a disease of the lungs that had claimed both his parents.‭ ‬Though the previous Government had already laid much of the groundwork it was Browne who provided the drive and energy to ensure that the job of eradicating the disease as a killer of thousands of Irish people every year was properly carried out.‭ ‬The late‭ ‬1940s also saw the availability of powerful new drugs that could save many sufferers from death.‭ ‬Never a man to worry too much about trodden toes and ruffled feathers he brought a single-minded determinism to the problem that got results.‭

But while he had many qualities Browne also had quite a few faults especially as a Party colleague.‭ ‬He was not a good team player and not a master of the art of compromise.‭ ‬He alienated many of his fellow members of the Cabinet including his Party Leader Sean McBride of‭ ‬Clann na Poblachta.‭ ‬His Nemises was his mishandling of the controversial‭ ‘‬Mother and Child‭’ ‬scheme which was intended to provide State support for mothers and children.‭ ‬

This raised the hackles of many within the Catholic Hierarchy and the powerful Irish Medical Association.‭ ‬Many of them saw it as undermining their power and influence though quite a few were sympathetic to the gener trust of the propoes Legislation is it was done right to their eyes.‭ ‬However Browne’s hamfisted attempts to influence the Church and Archbishop Charles McQuaid in particular backfired.‭ ‬When he turned to his colleagues at the Cabinet table for support little or none was forthcoming and he felt he was being hung out to dry.