Harney says coalition will last full term


THE Progressive Democrats leader has said she is confident the proposed coalition between her party and Fianna Fail will last a full term.

Addressing last night's special meeting of the party's general council, which endorsed the joint programme for government, Ms Mary Harney said she was fully committed to playing her part to give the people a Government that was successful, accountable and stable.

"I believe that the action programme for a new millennium, negotiated between Fianna Fail and the Progressive Democrats over the past week, provides a solid basis to underpin these objectives, and that the government will run for a full, five year term.

"The capacity of the two parties to work together on a basis of mutual trust and partnership is more important to the ultimate success of the government than any written programme could be.

"Based on my discussions with Bertie Ahern during the election campaign, and the negotiations we have conducted since then, I am absolutely satisfied that the commitments we have entered into will be fully honoured."

Pledging to rebuild the party, she announced the establishment of a renewal committee, which would draw on the expertise and experience of elected local and national members, the various units of the organisation and the rank and file membership, and which will review organisation, policy and image.

Declaring that she had mixed feelings, she added: "On the one hand, we in the Progressive Democrats can reflect on a very successful process of negotiations with Fianna Fail and the prospect of participation in government.

"However, this outcome also comes in the wake of the devastating election result on June 6th, when not only some outstanding members of our parliamentary party failed to be returned but other superb candidates of ours were also unsuccessful."

She said Mr Ahern had been absolutely fair and honourable throughout all the discussions and negotiations, and the necessary chemistry of trust, mutual understanding and give and take which they shared was the best guarantee that the government they would form would be both stable and effective.

The programme, Ms Harney added, gave absolute priority to the crying need for peace in Northern Ireland.

"That political task cannot be held hostage by the republican movement. They cannot profess commitment to a peace process, and at the same time be incapable of condemning the foul and evil murders of Constables Graham and Johnston. Quite simply, they cannot have it both ways.