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What crisis? I love my job, says Harney

The public may view her as one of Brian Cowen's worst performing ministers but Mary Harney insists she loves her job.

The Health Minister also put paid to rumours that she has lost interest in the portfolio, saying she wants to continue in her post after any reshuffle.

The Dublin Mid-West TD said she has no problem being unpopular because she loves her job and relishes the challenges.

She also indicated that she might confound expectations and run in the next election.

This will come as a surprise to many as the health service creaked in the good times and is now seldom out of the headlines.

It is widely expected Ms Harney will retire once the current Government completes its term, but today she said: "I'm a lot younger than some people when they were first elected to the Dail."

She added: "I love the job, I love the challenge.

"I'm totally focused on continuing to reform the health service. That remains my focus."

Reshuffle

Asked by Pat Kenny on RTE Radio whether she believed she would still be in Health after the expected reshuffle later this year, Ms Harney said: "At the end of the day that is a matter for the Taoiseach to decide what members run the Government.

"It's not a matter for me. I love doing the job I do. It's not a popular job."

She added: "It's not a job you take if you want to be popular, if you want people to love you so you don't do it for that reason.

"Everyday I relish the challenge of trying to effect change and I think it's fair to say that we've made a lot of changes.

"We've a lot more to do and I look forward to continuing to do that for as long as I can."

Pressed on the possibility that she is widely expected to step down at the next election -- scheduled for 2012 -- she replied: "I haven't said that. I've never said.

"I'm 55 years of age so I think I've a couple more years to go."

The former Progressive Democrat leader went on to defend her record in the Department of Health, arguing that while a lot of work remains, a lot has also been achieved.

kdoyle@herald.ie


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