Welby calls for Harney’s resignation as Health Minister

Mary Harney must resign as Minister for Health as it has proven “a bridge too far for her” and her position is “now untenable”.

This is the parting shot with which Cllr Tom Welby quit the PDs this week. On Tuesday the Connemara man resigned from the party over its support for the abolition of medical cards for the over 70s in Budget 09. While the Government has since modified that proposal, Cllr Welby has not rowed back on his decision.

However the PD party is due to be wound up in early November and Cllr Welby had already announced that he would be going Independent in June’s local elections. Of most interest, though, were his comments on the Health Minister Mary Harney, which were contained in his letter of resignation to the PD leader Ciaran Cannon.

Minister Harney was a founder member of the PDs, one of its chief ideological warriors, and a virtual secular saint to PD members and supporters. However the recent Budget debacle has left Cllr Welby disillusioned with the minister and her stint in Health.

“I have to seriously question Minister Harney’s role in these developments and in light of previous events, such as Risk Equalisation and the dispute with pharmacies, another issue that caused extreme anxiety and worry for our elderly,” he wrote. “I feel that her position as Minister for Health is now untenable and she should resign immediately.”

Cllr Welby said he was “extremely unhappy” to have to call for this action in light of the “tremendous work, courage and personal commitment” Minister Harney has shown in public life. However he said: “I feel that the Health portfolio has been a bridge too far for her.”

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