Thursday, 14 June 2007
Appointment of Taoiseach and Nomination of Members of Government: Motion
Mary Harney (Minister, Department of Health and Children; Dublin Mid West, Progressive Democrats)
I will share time with Deputy Brennan. I am happy and privileged to be invited to serve for a third time in a Government within a decade. As all Members who have spoken have acknowledged, it is a great privilege to be elected to this House and to have the opportunity to serve in Government. I have been in this House since 1981 and in the Oireachtas for 30 years and the political landscape in Ireland has changed dramatically during that period. In my early years in this House, it was Fianna Fáil versus the rest. These were the years when Fianna Fáil did not form coalition Governments with other parties. This changed in 1989 and has changed quite fundamentally subsequently. We pride ourselves in Ireland in saying that our economic future is centred on innovation and our political future must also be centred on innovation. We would be foolish to rule out the possibility of parties with different perspectives being able to come to an agreement in respect of a programme for Government and working together as loyal colleagues with shared Cabinet responsibility.
Given some of the comments made by Members opposite, I find it hard to understand that I was the subject of so much political seduction over the past few weeks. I had a very good meeting with Deputy Enda Kenny, who is someone for whom I have enormous personal regard. During the five years since he became leader of his party he has been enormously successful, which I acknowledge. His party won a further 20 seats in the most recent election, much of which was due to the considerable effort he put into the reorganisation of his party. I acknowledge this. However, Deputy Kenny and I met for more than an hour in a Dublin hotel only ten or 12 days ago because my party has been open to forming a Government that was led by either Fianna Fáil or Fine Gael. There are no other possibilities in this House either now or for the foreseeable future. In those discussions, as well as in discussions I had with other members of his party, I was told that co-location could be sorted out.