When I heard that Mary Harney had announced her resignation, I immediately logged onto Politics.ie to watch the usual carry-on of the bravely anonymous passing snide remarks about her. She will, of course, never return the favour. After all, why would she, the youngest senator in 1977, first and only female party leader, banisher of smog from Dublin, and the first person in a generation to actually seek out the Health portfolio to want to actually do something with it, want to pass remarks about people whose achievements in life don’t even stretch to having a name they aren’t afraid to use in public?
She has made mistakes, and she was never as radical as I had hoped she would be. But the fact is, Mary Harney has done what people always claim they want Irish politicians to do. Be straight about what they believe in, and attempt to deliver it. As for saying that she was a Thatcherite, I suggest they actually read a bit about Thatcherism. I knew her reasonably well when I was chairperson of the Young PDs, and one thing Mary Harney is not is an ideologue. Just ask the private health insurers. Her opponents nearly always are, but she isn’t. She was always about solutions.
Irish politics has been better for her participation, and I wish her well in the next stage of her life.