Yesterday, this blog listen with eager curiosity as "Health Minister" Mary Harney defended the HSE's plans for the future of Wexford General Hospital. Of course, Mrs Harney didn't actually give us any explicit details as to her plans for the hospital, because she has to discuss it with other people first. Why she didn't do that before addressing the people of Wexford is beyond us, but perhaps she needed that smokescreen to try and sell the people of Wexford a plan that will see their health service decimated in the next four years.
Who is Mary Harney?
Mary Harney was born in Galway in 1953, but her parents moved to Dublin shortly after her birth. In 1976 she graduated from Trinity College in Dublin with a bachelor of arts in modern studies. For a brief time she served as a secondary school teacher.
In 1977, Harney stood unsuccessfully as a Fianna Fail candidate in the general election of that year. Jack Lynch, seeing something worthwhile in Harney, appointed her to the Seanad. She was elected to Dublin County Council in 1979, and two years later won election to the Dail. Unfortunately for the sick of Ireland, Harney has been re-elected every election since.
In 1985, Harney was expelled from Fianna Fail by Charles Haughey for being part of the Gang of 22, who voted in favour of the Anglo Irish Agreement. Later that year she became a founder member of the Progressive Democrats, who declared themselves as a clear alternative to Fianna Fail. However, less than four years later, Harney ended up back in government with Fianna Fail, and her destiny was to remain intertwined with them for the coming two decades.
Following the 1997 general election, Harney, now leader of the PDs, became the first female Tánaiste, and minister for enterprise, trade and employment. In 2001, Harney was at the centre of a scandal when it emerged that she and her husband had used an Air Corp craft to fly to Sligo, where she opened an off license owned by a friend.
On the 29th of September 2004, Harney was appointed Minister of Health in a government reshuffle. The same year Harney personally requested the use of the Government jet for a FAS trip to Florida at a cost of up to €80,000 to taxpayers. She travelled to Florida with senior FÁS executives, department officials, and her husband, Brian Geoghegan, was receiving more than €100-a-day subsistence money from the taxpayer when FÁS picked up her hairdressing bill in a Florida hotel. Like all government ministers travelling abroad, she was entitled to a daily allowance for "incidental expenses".
We have seen that Mary Harney is a ruthless self serving TD, who has been at the centre of more than one scandal. Can we trust someone like her to protect our health service? Can we trust her to protect the rights of our health workers? Can we trust her to look after our sick?
No, we cant.
Remember this when the next election comes around. A vote for Fiann Fail is a vote for Mary Harney to continue as Minister for Health.