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Health Minister Mary Harney Tenders Resignation

Mary Harney - The unnecessary victim of paint and eggs

Health Minister Mary Harney has offered her resignation on Tuesday last, to the Taoiseach Brian Cowen. The former Progressive Democrats leader also confirmed she will not be contesting the next general election.

Minister Harney stated “I have reached my decision after considerable reflection and having taken into account the advice and constant support offered over many years by my family, friends and colleagues and accordingly I have offered my resignation as Minister for Health and Children.”

Currently a TD for Dublin Mid West, Ms Harney had served as minister of state for the Department of the Environment from 1989 to 1992 and Minister for Enterprise from 1997 to 2004, before becoming Minister for Health since 2004, to current date.

Ms Harney visited Tipperary and Thurles officially on many occasions.  As Minister of State for the Department of the Environment, she was a guest of Thurles Tidy Towns Committee and officially switched on the then new fountain in the river Suir, sponsored to Thurles by Cantwell Electric Engineers, and currently still enjoyed at Cathedral Street in the town. One achievement often cited from her role in Environmental Protection was the banning of bituminous coal in Dublin in 1990.

It was at a Progressive Democrats meeting the Anner Hotel, Thurles, Co Tipperary that news of her engagement to Brian Geoghegan of An Foras Áiseanna Saothair (FÁS), was made public, first revealed by local Thurles photographer George Willoughby.

Ms Harney, a native of Ballinasloe, Co Galway, was first elected to the Dáil in 1981. She became the youngest ever member of the Seanad Éireann, when nominated by the Late then Taoiseach Jack Mary Lynch in 1977.  She became a founder member of the Progressive Democrats together with Limerick born Desmond Joseph O’Malley in 1985 and became leader of the party in 1993. As leader of the PDs, she was Tánaiste from June 1997 to September 2006.  She then stepped down as PD leader at that time and was replaced by Mr Michael McDowell, however following his defeat in the 2007 general election, Ms Harney stepped back in as acting party leader.

It was possibly on her last visit to Tipperary in November 2010, that a group of about 30 people protesting, threw eggs and cheese at Mary Harney’s car as she arrived at the Mid Western Regional Hospital in Nenagh, Co Tipperary. The minister was then officially at the Tipperary hospital to open a new Endoscopy Unit and speaking afterwards, the Minister said she was not upset, that she has had other things thrown at her that were probably worse, adding, ‘I think it’s a great pity that in a democracy people don’t use the opportunity to put their perspective forward in a different way. Politics is about choices, it’s about argument and debate. It’s not about engaging in public disorder offences or engaging in activity of that kind. I understand that many of those involved are politically motivated by a different persuasion than the mainstream parties in this country and maybe that’s part of the motivation.

The week previous to this, the Minister had been targeted with red paint, as she turned the sod at a mental health centre in Dublin.

It is expected that changes to the cabinet, including the vacancy created by rebel Foreign Affairs Minister, Micheál Martin, will be announced by the Taoiseach Brian Cowen in the next few days.

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