While Tony talks, Mary walks…

Mary Harney, Tanaiste and Health Minister in the Irish government, has announced her resignation as leader of the troubled Progressive Democrats, with immediate effect. With an election due within the next nine months, the news will undoubtedly spark quick moves within the party to replace Harney, with Michael McDowell likely to be clear favourite to replace Harney as leader.

  • na

    Politics.ie has some discussion including how the leadership contest works. Liz’s name is, of course, coming up as a possible contendor with McDowell and even the odd mention of Parlon.

  • na

    Nominations close on Monday at noon. That’s fast.

  • Crataegus

    It will be interesting to watch the PDs between now and election day

  • Green Ink

    Has to be Liz. The PDs are screwed in the next election if they chose McDowell. This could be the party that eats itself (that wasn’t just smoke a few months ago…)

  • Holt

    Of more interest than the future of the PD’s is the future of the government.
    Harney’s departure must surely mean instability. If McDowell becomes leader automatic instability, if anyone else an immediate cabinet reshuffle.

  • if anyone else an immediate cabinet reshuffle.
    Not nesscarily. My view. http://www.irishelection.com/09/the-queen-is-dead-long-live-the/

  • Colm

    if Liz doesn’t give McDowell a run for his money i’ll be extremely surprised.
    while McDowell might be the more high profile PD, i’d imagine that the majority of the party, at least at grassroots level anyway, and certainly at youth level, want Liz to be the next leader, and Bertie certainly wouldn’t want McDowell anymore entrenched in his government than he already is.

  • Crow

    Seems lLizzie is the bookies choice at 4/6 and McDowell at 2/1.

  • iris polotik

    jeez, Mc dowell will win then meltdown then a shinner coalition. Dyers not geddit….

  • Bushmills

    Liz O’Donnell could take the PD’s places – personally I think she could have had a reasonable shot at a Dublin Euro-seat had she run.

    She, I think more closely resembles the nature of what O’Malley wanted when he set up the PD’s than McDowell, who I think frankly has minimal appeal with the RoI electorate, certainly from what I can see.

    If the PD’s want to become really attractive to younger people, who are not attracted by the cute hoor gombeen antics of FF and the lumpenproletariat representatives of SF/IRA O’Donnell is the woman for the task.

    What does our resident PD Keith M think?

  • Fraggle

    Keith doesn’t even know what constituency Liz O’DOnnell represents so I’m not sure what use his opinion would be.

  • IJP

    Firstly, I would like to pay tribute to Mary Harney for what little it’s worth. She was an outstanding Party Leader lasting an incredible length of time at the top – much longer than half the party’s existence.

    Mary had many, many leadership qualities – an ability to inspire confidence in others without coming across arrogant, an ability to keep a team generally united, and an ability to see and use the strengths and weaknesses in herself and others which has enabled the PDs to play a limited hand extremely well over the past decade. She also, of course, has proved keenly aware when to go and will go into the history books popular and with head held high (at least among those disposed to be favourable towards the PDs and Liberalism in general).

    On the replacement, Liz O’Donnell, not someone I know to be honest, will no doubt be the bookies’ favourite. McDowell looks set to suffer a touch of “Heseltine syndrome” – the obvious successor rarely gets it and, besides, I’m not sure his strengths are best played out at the head of his party. Unfortunately from the PDs’ point of view, an O’Donnell-McDowell leadership “team” simply would not work, so the idea of a “nice and nasty” team goes out of the window. A Dáil hopeful among the party’s current Senators would be a good idea, but there is no hugely obvious candidate.

    It probably is time for change, but these are challenging times for the PDs. They have always had to make absolute best use of the skills within senior party figures, and it’s hard to see how they juggle the balls so they come down in the hands this time.

  • Holt

    The article in irishelection.com, to which Simon refers, talks of O’Donnell as party leader, but with Harney and McD keeping their cabinet positions.

    Harney also resigns as Tainiste, do we have a Tainiste who is not a member of government, or a Tainiste who is not leader of the junior coalition party?

    Instability, instability, instability

  • Richard


    The Tánaiste must be a member of the government:

    Article 6.1° of the Constitution states “The Taoiseach shall nominate a member of the Government to be the Tánaiste.”

    It depends, I suppose, on what was agreed in the coalitions programme for government on who in the government “has to be” tánaiste?

  • Southern Observer

    As another resident PD my money is on Michael McDowell.

  • Bushmills


    Your money is on him, but do you think he’d be the best leader?

  • Brian Boru

    Hope McDowell gets it he will sort of them illegal immigrants.

  • jfd

    Liz gets my vote.

    Michael at the helme would benefit one party in the long term: SF.

    Plus, if the PD’s are to reposition themselves ahead of the election, Liz with her vaguely left of centre social perspectives could be good in a window dressing sense – looks good, sounds good, has the ability to stay on ‘government’ message (unlike MMcD).

    A compromise candidate? There’s not much ‘talent’ beyond Liz and MMcD. Parlon hasn’t the profile in Dublin to sway the middle classes, equally Young O’Malley is too ‘green’ (in experience) to deliver the party.

    Nevertheless, I have my doubts as to Liz’s ability to turn it all around before next May. The sound of FGers rubbing their hands and Shinners thumping the calculators is almost deafening.

  • Mick Fealty

    Can I just interject that Chris should be nominated for the cool headline of the year competition…

  • Government to be the Tánaiste.
    Doesn’t have to be a member of the cabinet I would think. I think technically a senator can be made a minister

  • Chris Donnelly

    ahh schuks, Mick…..(says he blushing)

    I’m fascinated with where the PDs will turn at this juncture. Yesterday, when this story broke, I was convinced McDowell would walk into the post of Leader. By this morning, I’d thought Liz O’Donnell would have been the smart choice for the party faithful, and even listened to Parlon being heavily touted on RTE radio.


    On my drive home, the pundits have me convinced McDowell is back in charge, apparently with the first declarations of support from elected party figures.

    How this will all play out with the electorate and the party’s government partners in Fianna Fail will be fascinating.

    Prior to the 2002 election, McDowell was let off the leash to growl ferociously at Ahern and co. in a high risk strategy which ultimately bore fruit for the party. But could he pull that off as party leader, and will it work a second time around?

  • Southern Observer

    [i]Your money is on him, but do you think he’d be the best leader?[/i]

  • Green Ink

    It’s going to be McDowell for the sake of party unity. And that will prove more volatile in the long run than O’Donnell. Shame, O’Donnell is potentially a great leader, but at least it saves getting hopeful, then disillusioned, with McDowell: a bit of inequality is good for an economy. Expect grannies to freeze to death this winter.