The Chairman of the Western Health Board has resigned in protest at the introduction of the new smoking ban in public houses.

Cllr Val Hanley tendered his resignation as chairman and as a member of the board at a meeting in Galway this afternoon.

His resignation is the most high-profile disagreement with the Health Minister over the ban. He had been chairman of the Western Health Board since July.

It comes less than a week after widespread revolt over the ban at a meeting of the Fianna Fáil parliamentary party.

Mr Hanley is a former Fianna Fáil Lord Mayor of Galway, and a publican.

He is also Chairman of the Connacht Branch and an Executive member of the Vintners Federation of Ireland.

In a scripted statement this afternoon, Cllr Hanley strongly attacked Minister Martin and his department for their lack of consultation or compromise on the smoking proposals.

He said this piece of legislation was sneaked into the Dáil, there was no debate, and he regarded it as an ill-thought-out piece of legislation.

He claimed that if there was a vote on it in the Dáil now it would be defeated.