Irish Republican News · January 19, 2011
[Irish Republican News]

[Irish Republican News]
Mary Harney resigns from government

Mary Harney has quit as Minister for Health in the latest departure from the ailing Fianna Fail/Green Party coalition government.

Ms Harney confirmed she would not stand in the forthcoming general election, but also made the surprise announcement that she would step down as Minister.

Her resignation follows that of Minister for Foreign Affairs Micheal Martin last night after the vote of confidence in Taoiseach Brian Cowen as leader of Fianna Fail.

She becomes the fourth minister to signal their departure from politics in recent months, and her move opens the possibility a pre-election cabinet reshuffle.

Ms Harney told state-run television that she did not believe it was appropriate for someone who was not running in the election to continue to serve in Cabinet.

She said she had informed the Taoiseach of her decision last week, but that he asked her to hold off on the announcement.

The Green Party today said that it is seeking a date for the General Election before the end of March.

Ms Harney said she assumed that her resignation would be accepted, and that as the Taoiseach already had to fill one vacancy at Cabinet, he would fill her position at the same time.

The former leader of the Progressive Democrats has served as Minister for Health since 2004. She also served as minister for enterprise, trade and employment. Ms Harney, a TD for Dublin Mid West, served as Tanaiste [Deputy Prime Minister] to former Taoiseach Bertie Ahern.

As Health Minister, she was was at the centre of a series of high-profile public health scandals as well as ethics and corruption scandals.

She also became synonymous with efforts to privatise health care in Ireland and the creation of a two-tier health system.

Commenting on the resignation of Mary Harney as Health Minister, Sinn Fein Dail leader and spokesperson on Health and Children Caoimhghin O Caolain said:

“The departure from office of this disastrous Health Minister will be widely welcomed. She should have resigned long ago and her policies and that of her Fianna Fail Government colleagues should have been jettisoned also. But she and they resisted every call for change and for real health reform.

“Now Mary Harney is resigning as Minister not for the good of the nation’s health but to facilitate a cynical Cabinet re-shuffle for electoral purposes.

“Do we now face the prospect of Taoiseach Brian Cowen re-shuffling much of his Cabinet a few weeks before a General Election in a bid to save the seats of Fianna Fail backbench TDs who may be elevated as Ministers?

“If so it would be a futile bid to win publicity, once again treating the electorate with contempt.”

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© 2011 Irish Republican News