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Councillor Cait Keane

Dublin South

Coalition Government 1989 To 1992

Coalition Government 1989-1992

June and July 1989

Negotiation of the "Agreed Programme for Government 1989-1993" with Fianna Fáil, enabling establishment of historic Progressive Democrats/Fianna Fáil Coalition Government on July 12th.

Des O'MalIey appointed Minister for Industry and Commerce; Bobby Molloy appointed Minister for Energy. Mary Harney appointed the State's first ever Minister for Environmental Protection. Stephen O'Byrnes appointed Assistant Government Press Secretary.

Key elements of the Agreed Programme for Government:

Job Creation:

Overall framework of programme has job creation as top priority. Objectives include:

Pro-jobs tax reform;

Reducing disadvantages represented by access costs, energy costs and internal transport costs;

Reduction of anti-competitive and restrictive practises;

Overall reform of company law.

Income Tax:

25% standard rate by 1993; single higher rate, and widening of tax base to corporate sector.


Progressive Democrats' policy is to create greater enterprise and competition in the Irish economy through ending State monopolies and cartels, or commercialising State activities, as has occurred in the forestry sector. Ryanair is an example. The emergence of this airline resulted from the single handed opposition by Des O'Malley to the Air Transport Bill, in 1985, which would have outlawed competition in that sector.

Health Care:

Extra £15 million provided in remainder of 1989 to tackle immediate waiting lists. Further £133 million provided in 1990 Health Estimates. Overall efficiency review of acute hospitals, and Dublin Hospitals' admissions systems by Fox and Kennedy Committees were initiated by the new Government.
£1 million granted to Haemophiliac Society.

Social Welfare:

Further reductions in different welfare rates and establishment of an Independent Appeals Office.


Appointment of a Minister for Environmental Protection (Mary Harney).

Establishment of Independent Environmental Protection Agency.

Major programme of sewage treatment works to clean up rivers and beaches over the next decade.

Planning Law:

Planning compensation scandal to be ended after hand-wringing by previous Governments.

New Competition Bill:

Implement Articles 85 and 86 of the Treaty of Rome to outlaw anti-competitive practices, cartels and monopolies, and protect the consumer.

Dáil Boundary Commission:

To be established on a fairer basis with retention of five seat constituencies.

Law Reform:

Death penalty to be abolished. Codification of criminal law to be undertaken; changes in libel laws and bill on telephone tapping to be introduced.

Re-organisation of the Courts to be undertaken, including the establishment of a new Civil Court of Appeal and scheme of Family Courts.

Oireachtas Reform: Provides for series of changes including measures to expedite passages of legislation; review the committee system; review of Question Time, and the sub judice rule.

MEPs to qualify for relevant Oireachtas Committees.

National Lottery:

New system of allocating funds to be introduced.
The system was revised later that year; all amenity and community applications processed first by local authorities; grants for health purposes now dispensed by Health Boards, and arts funds by the Arts Council.


Reduction in the pupil/teacher ratio at primary level (This commenced in September 1990), and extra teachers, including additional remedial teachers, to be provided in disadvantaged areas.

Programme to promote study of German, Spanish and French to be accelerated.

Local Government Reform:

Agreed Programme proposed Select All-Party Oireachtas Committee to review local government.


Government committed to:

promoting viability of maximum number of farms;

increasing effectiveness of agri-food sector;

increasing headage payments;

promoting forestry;

stimulating non-agricultural activities in rural areas, etc.

New Appeals System to be established for farmers to appeal exclusion from Disadvantaged Areas

Public Transport:

New Bill to replace outdated 1932 Road Transport Act to liberalise bus transport industry, and provide greater competition and flexibility.

Defence Forces pay dispute to be resolved

Rod Licence dispute to be resolved Emigrant Welfare:

Financial support for immigrant groups in the United States to be provided (1990 Budget did) and Government to examine feasibility of granting voting rights to emigrants.

The "Agreed Programme for Government, 1989-1993" to be reviewed after two years, i.e. June 1991, and annually thereafter.


October 1989

Following Departmental inquiry, Des O'MaIley, as Minister for Industry and Commerce, cancelled Export Credit Insurance policies on beef exports to Iraq for 1987-88 after it was found that 38% of the beef covered had been sourced in Britain and Northern Ireland.

1990 Budget

Income tax reform: Standard rate reduced from 32% to 30%, and top rate cut from 55% to 53%. Standard VAT rate cut from 25% to 23%.

May 1990

Party publishes comprehensive document on Irish extradition law, "Extradition - Effective and Just", to close off obvious loopholes in existing law.
Government appoints nine-person Barrington Committee of experts to make recommendations on reform of country's Local Government system.
New Boundary Commission appointed, in accordance with terms of Programme for Government, to review Dáil constituency boundaries.

June 1990

Local Government (Planning and Development) Act passed. This abolished the payment of compensation by Local Authorities to developers who had been refused because their plans contravened the existing zoning arrangements.

July 1990

Criminal Justice Act passed abolishing the death penalty.
National Treasury Management Agency Act passed to commercialise the management of the country's National Debt and to ensure that the best expertise could be retained for this purpose.

August 1990

Companies (Amendment) Act passed, after Des O'Malley had piloted emergency legislation through Oireachtas for appointment of Administrator to the Goodman Group to protect Irish farmers and the beef industry, after that group collapsed following outbreak of Gulf Crisis.

Autumn 1990

Environmental Protection Minister, Mary Harney, introduces ban on sale of smoky coal in Dublin area to combat capital's killer smog problem. Measure an immediate and outstanding success.

October 1990

Government crisis after public disclosure that Minister for Defence and Presidential candidate, Brian Lenihan, had made contradictory statements about "phone calls to Aras episode in 1982". Government faced no-confidence motion from Fine Gael, and after Progressive Democrats made clear that Government's credibility was undermined, Brian Lenihan was sacked from Government. Government won confidence vote by 83 votes to 80.

December 1990

Companies Act passed. This was the most comprehensive reform of the Companies Act undertaken and significantly updated the law in relation to business practises in this country.

Barrington Committee complete their report on reforms of the functions and structures of Local Government, and further specialist study on the existing funding of Local Authorities to be undertaken by the London Institute for Fiscal Studies.

1991 Budget

Budget overshadowed by Gulf War.

Income tax reform: Standard rate cut from 30% to 29%, and top rate cut from 53% to 52%.

April 1991

Progresive Democrats National Conference, Cork.

Government agrees to establish Judicial Inquiry, at insistence of the Progressive Democrats, to examine possible grave irregularities and abuses in the Irish beef industry, after " World In Action" television programme revealed disturbing evidence of such.

May 1991

Radiological Protection Act passed after Bobby Molloy had piloted legislation to reform the former Nuclear Energy Board.

Local Government Act, 1991 , marked the first phase of reform of the Local Government system in Ireland which was seriously out of date. It provided for the re-organisation of Dublin Co. Council into three new Local Authorities; proposed the establishment of eight Regional Authorities for the country, and reformed the ultra vires rule to give Local Authorities more developmental powers. It also cracked down on Section 4 abuses by Local Authorities, requiring henceforth that any such motions would require the support of 75% of the full council membership.

Party's new logo, featuring an oak tree, launched.

June 1991

Progressive Democrats contest first ever Local Government elections.
Party wins 37 seats nationally, and a third of the seats (12) were won by women. The highest percentage of women councillors elected of any party.

June 1991

Des O'Malley appoints the Industrial Policy Review Group, chaired by Jim Culliton, comprising experts and practitioners of Irish industry to make recommendations on defects in native industrial policy, and need to encourage emergence of stronger indigenous industrial sector, bearing in mind very high level of expenditure on native industry support.

They were given a deadline of six months to do the job.

July 1991

Competition Act, piloted by Des O'MaIley, passed to bring competition law here into line with the rest of the EC. To secure greater rights for consumers, to outlaw monopolistic trading arrangements, and price fixing and collusion.

September/October 1991

Des O'Malley appoints Inspectors to investigate so-called Greencore and Telecom scandals.


August-18 October 1991

Review of Programme for Government

Revised Programme for Government 1991 - 1993

Principal Proposals:

Budgetary Strategy

Reduction of national debt/GNP ratio towards 100% by 1993

EBR not to exceed 1 .5% by 1993

Current budget to be in broad balance (within 1% GNP) by 1993

Tax Reform

Over next two Budgets (1992 & 1993) to achieve Standard Tax rate of 25% and single higher rate of 44% (existing rates were 29%, 48% and 52%).

PRSI, currently totalling 7.75% to be reformed to single main rate of 6%. Standard tax band to be considerably widened.

Overall strategy to make tax system simpler, more equitable and pro-jobs. Universal ID system to be introduced to combat fraud and black economy.


Green Paper to be published by end of year covering range of issues including role of parents, in-service teacher training, reallocation of educational resources, integration of various second level schools, etc.

Government to bring forward proposals to reform inequities in Third Level Grants scheme.


Commitment to re-allocation of resources to ensure proper development of community-based services.

Commitment to expanded day-care services for elderly and mentally and physically handicapped.

Commitment to overall restructuring of Health Services given annual budget now is £1 .6 billion, and not good value to either patients or taxpayers.

Social Welfare

White Paper and Charter on Voluntary Organisations promised.

Anti-employment traps in the Welfare code to be tackled.

Reform of the supplementary welfare allowance scheme.

Services for children at risk to be co-ordinated by one Minister for State at the Department of Health

Abolition of Domestic Ground Rents

Agreement to implement Party's Bill setting Termination Date on remaining domestic ground rents of January 1997.

Status of Women

Government to implement Interim Recommendations of the Commission on the Status of Women.

Agriculture and Rural Development

Farmers appealing exclusion from Disadvantaged Areas to be allowed see Departmental data, and excluded areas to be granted 100% re-survey. TB eradication scheme to be totally reviewed.

Marine Affairs

Inland fisheries co-ops. to be established by January 1992. Increase in Ireland's fish quotas to be sought.

Environmental Protection

Light rail system for Dublin to be considered.

Environmental Impact Assessments must be carried out for all proposed interpretive centres.

Upcoming Planning Bill to allow third parties access to Circuit Court for injunctions against unauthorised developments.

Local government Reform

Sub-county Local Elections to be held in June 1992.

Cabinet sub-committee to pursue devolution programme as recommended by Barrington

Committee to transfer real power from Central to Local Government.

National Lottery Grants

All amenity grants to be allocated directly by Local Authorities.

Oireachtas Reform

Government to bring forward proposals to the Committee on Procedure and Privileges. Specific proposals to include Friday sittings, summer recess cut by a month, and calendar of all Dáil sessions to be published.

European Affairs Committee to be established.

Electronic voting to be examined.

Sub judice rule to be changed.

Bill to reform Ministerial Pensions to be expedited.

Business Ethics/Disclosure of Interests

New legislation to require full disclosure of direct or indirect relevant interests by staff or directors of State companies.

Code of conduct to be introduced for State company employees.

Competitive tendering for all state work, including service contracts, to be introduced.

Marriage Breakdown

White Paper on Marriage Breakdown to be published before end of the year.

Third World Aid

Government commitment to higher level of ODA


Government commitment to higher level of ODA.

November 1991

Government crisis after Taoiseach proposed nomination to Dáil of Jim McDaid as new Minister for Defence. Latter had been photographed outside Four Courts after extradition case. Progressive Democrats felt such an appointment would not be appropriate. Crisis resolved when McDaid declined the nomination.

January 1992

Further political crisis after Seán Doherty allegations of phone tapping in relation to Taoiseach, Mr Haughey. Progressive Democrats make clear that if this further credibility crisis for the Government is not resolved they will leave the Government after the passage of the Budget's Financial Resolutions on

January 29, 1992

Budget '92: Standard rate of income tax cut from 29% to 27% , and the top rate is cut from 52% to 48%, thereby cutting the number of rates from three to two.

Des O'Malley published radical report of the Culliton Committee, and undertakes to speedily advance its proposals at Government level, with a view to having this new blueprint for Irish industrial policy speedily implemented.

February 1992

Charles Haughey resigns as Taoiseach, and the new leader of Fianna Fail, Albert Reynolds becomes Taoiseach.

May 1992

Party National Conference, Waterford.

  June 1992

Maastricht Referendum on European Union carried overwhelmingly. Progressive Democrats mounted most intensive and visible campaign of all the major parties in favour of a "Yes" vote.

Des O'Malley gives evidence to the Beef Tribunal in Dublin Castle.


July 1992

Progressive Democrats participate as part of Irish Government delegation in commencement of historic round of talks to seek settlement to Northern Question, involving also the British Government and the Constitutional parties of Northern Ireland.


September 1992

Des O'Malley publishes reform framework agreed by government for implementation of Culliton and undertakes to have the enabling legislation before the Dáil before the end of the year.

Party's new General Secretary, Michael Parker, takes office.


October 1992

Fresh Government crisis erupts after Taoiseach, Albert Reynolds, accuses Cabinet colleague, Des O'Malley, of committing perjury when he, Mr Reynolds, gives his evidence to the Beef Tribunal.


4 November 1992

Progressive Democrats forced to resign from Government.


5 November 1992

Government defeated in Motion of Confidence in the Dáil.


25 November 1992

General Election held. Progressive Democrats increase their seats in the Dáil from six to ten, and in succeeding Seanad elections, the party wins two seats (Cathy Honan and John Dardis), bringing Party's strength to 12.

Mary Harney

An Tanaiste
Mary Harney TD

Ageing Ireland; Shaping the future

Rip- Off Ireland - More Myth than Reality

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