Sunday, May 27, 2007

McDowell leads PDs down the road to perdition

The following is a straight lift from an article in today's Sunday Independent. Some comments about McDowell seemed entirely apt.

The coalition partners lost six of their eight seats, including party stalwarts such as deputy leader Liz O'Donnell in Dublin South, Tim O'Malley in Limerick and Fiona O'Malley in Dun Laoghaire.

Mary Harney, in Dublin Mid West, and Noel Grealish, in Galway, were the only two members of the PDs to be re-elected to the Dail.

Ms Harney was unavailable for comment last night.

Michael McDowell told the Sunday Independent last night: "I won't go back. I will be a private citizen again. I won't be a politician, a journalist or a controversialist. The guillotine has come down."

But Mr Grealish, who won the last seat in Galway West, said he would be meeting Mary Harney in the next few days to discuss the future of the party.

"Mary Harney has spent the guts of 30 years building up this party. Is she going to spend the next 10 years rebuilding it? I'm not so sure. It's a tough battle," he said.

Mr Grealish said the PDs got squeezed by the two bigger parties.

"Now we are just two. It is hard to run a party with just two deputies. It is very hard for the party to survive with just two members in the house," he said.

"Hopefully we will survive and rebuild but we will have to think seriously about all options, including about whether we will disband," he added.

Mr Minihan, who failed in his bid for a seat in Cork South Central, said last night that Bertie Ahern should appoint Mary Harney as health minister in the national interest.

He said he was not suggesting that the Progressive Democrats go back into government, just Mary Harney.

"I think that the Taoiseach should invite her to continue as minister for health and the mechanics of the rest to be worked out," he said.

"I believe the Taoiseach is big enough to invite her to take the portfolio of minister for health. The Taoiseach should invite her in his own interests and most of all, in the interest of the Irish people. Mary Harney is bigger and better than the entity of the Progressive Democrats at this moment in time.

"Mary Harney should feel absolutely no responsibility for the PDs at this moment in time. That responsibility is a responsibility of Michael McDowell," he said.

It seemed increasingly likely that Mary Harney will resume leadership of the party in the coming days. Party trustees are expected to meet today to schedule meetings to decide on the party's leadership and its future.

Tom Parlon, the outgoing Minister of State, said that the Progressive Democrats could remain in government in their own right, with Ms Harney and Mr Grealish helping Fianna Fail make up the numbers in a new government.

As shock over the scale of the losses sank in, recriminations over Mr McDowell's leadership began to surface. One party source likened his departure to a general walking away from battle, leaving wounded and leaderless troops to fend for themselves.

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