| 11.4°C Dublin

I didn't want Harney in health - O'Malley

THE founder of the defunct Progressive Democrats, Des O'Malley, has revealed that he was strongly opposed to Mary Harney becoming the minister for health.

And Mr O'Malley has also said that he was against Michael McDowell becoming minister for justice because both departments were "high spending".

The PDs pursued a low-tax, conservative government philosophy and the retired politician said that his party's core message was diluted by having senior ministers in such departments.

Speaking about Ms Harney, who went on to become a leader of the party, he said that then taoiseach Bertie Ahern must have been "delighted" when she volunteered to take up to the job.

"There were very few takers for the job. The department was in a terrible mess. The health service is all about spending money.

"It was the same at the Department of Justice, where Michael McDowell was confronted with finding money for immigration, gardai, prison officers and so on.

"With the two PD ministers in high-spending departments, the party's core message was diluted," Mr O'Malley has said in his new memoir 'Conduct Unbecoming'.

Ms Harney served as health minister from September 2004 until January 2011 and her period in the portfolio was beset with controversies.

Michael McDowell served as justice minister from June 2002 until June 2007 and his time in the office was also controversial.