Ahern's hip surgery is successful

MINISTER for Justice Dermot Ahern has undergone a hip operation, as a result of the rheumatoid arthritis to which he recently attributed his decision to step down from politics.

MINISTER for Justice Dermot Ahern has undergone a hip operation, as a result of the rheumatoid arthritis to which he recently attributed his decision to step down from politics.

The Blackrock-based Louth Fianna Fail TD had the surgery on Friday, January 14 and is said to be making a good recovery.

"The situation is that the Minister had a hip replacement operation last Friday and is making good recovery and hopes to be discharged from hospital on Friday," said a Department of Justice spokesperson.

"He will then recuperate before returning to the Dail on 1st February. While in hospital he has been able to engage in meetings with staff of the Department of Justice and deal with correspondence and emails. He is making good progress."

Sources close to Minister Ahern said he intended to support Brian Cowen in yesterday's (Tuesday, January 18) motion of confidence in the Taoiseach, assuming a procedure could be put in place to allow him to vote from hospital. Mr Ahern informed ministerial colleagues of the operation at the Cabinet meeting on Tuesday, January 11 - the first of the new year.

He had been scheduled to take questions on his portfolio in the Dil this week, however, that has now been rescheduled to February 3 with the consent of the opposition. After a few days in hospital following the operation, Mr Ahern will spend some time at home to recover.