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Mary Harney Name Mary Harney
Minister for Health and Children
Constituency Dublin M-West
Address Department of Health
Hawkins House
Dublin 2
Phone 01 6354148/ 6711026
Fax 01 6714508

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Mary Harney was a founding member of the Progressive Democrats and serves as Dail Deputy for Dublin Mid West. She is currently the Minister of Health and Children.

Mary has had a truly historical career breaking numerous barriers for women in Irish politics. She was the first ever woman to head an Irish political party, be appointed An Tanaiste, and hold the positions of Minister for Enterprise, Employment, and Trade.  

Mary's ground-breaking political career began during her time at Trinity College Dublin. While there she became the first female auditor of the college's premier debating forum, the Historical Society. It wasn't long before her name was being mentioned in political circles, and in 1977 she was appointed a Senator by the then Taoiseach Jack Lynch. At 24 years of age, Mary was the youngest ever person to serve in the Seanad. She was subsequently elected to Dail Eireann in 1981 representing the constituency of Dublin South West.

Mary's expulsion from the Fianna Fail party in 1985 over her support for the Anglo-Irish Agreement led to new political life. She co-founded a new political party, the Progressive Democrats, with Desmond O'Malley. This new political force espoused a liberal democratic ethos, and promised to put the economic recovery of Ireland at the top of their agenda. 

Mary's extensive career with the Progressive Democrats began when she was appointed Minister of State with responsibility for Environmental Protection. To this day, she is widely remembered for eliminating smog in Dublin, when she banned the sale of bituminous coal in the city.  She also established the Environmental Protection Agency. 

In October 1993, she was elected Leader of the Progressive Democrats and in June 1997, following lengthy negotiations, Mary Harney formed a minority Government with Fianna Fail.

Once in power, the Progressive Democrats began to introduce major economic reforms by introducing dramatic reductions in income and corporation tax levels and promoting enterprise and greater competition.

What followed was five years of unprecedented growth and prosperity. In just under half a decade, Ireland rid itself of the twin scourges of unemployment and emigration, both of which had decimated the country for over 40 years. Between 1997 and 2002, 400,000 new jobs were created and unemployment went from 11% to 4%. For the first time ever, the country was at full employment. The Party also played a significant role in brokering the historic Good Friday Agreement in 1998, which brought new hope of a lasting peace to Northern Ireland. 

In the 2002 general election Ms. Harney led the Progressive Democrats back into Government after doubling her party's representation in the Dail, and made history once again as the first woman Tanaiste to serve a second successive term. Her election pledge was to maintain the high levels of employment achieved by her party in power, by keeping taxes on work down and by continuing to promote enterprise, innovation and competition.  

In the Cabinet re-shuffle of September 2004, Mary Harney chose to take on the challenging Ministry of Health portfolio. She has outlined overcrowding in A&E, shortage of acute hospital beds, and care for the elderly as her key priorities.

Mary Harney was born in Ballinasloe in County Galway in March 1953, however she was raised on a farm near the village of Newcastle on the western outskirts of Dublin. She began her education in the Convent of Mercy, Inchicore and later moved on to secondary school Colaiste Bríde in Clondalkin. She attended University at Trinity College Dublin and in 1976, graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in Modern Studies. Mary was married to Brian Geoghegan in November 2001.  

In September 2006 Mary Harney resigned as Party Leader and was succeeded by Michael Mc Dowell.

Following the General Election of 2007 Party Chairman Peter Wyer asked Mary Harney to assume leadership responsibilities.

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