PDs set to broaden leadership criteria


The Progressive Democrats are considering allowing members who are senators or councillors to take the leadership of the party.

TD Mary Harney has said she is bowing out by 2009, and TD Noel Grealish has not expressed an interest in the role, leaving the party languishing.

Fiona O'Malley, who lost her seat at the election, is the only person who has expressed interest in the leadership.

The PDs are considering whether a councillor or senator could take on the role, despite party rules stating the position must be held by a TD. A party spokesman said committees had been set up to formulate a strategy toward the 2009 election.

Tipperary South representative PJ Long headed a committee on working toward the 2009 election, while Kildare representative and former senator John Dardis headed a committee to address the leadership situation.

Mr Dardis tabled a report recommending a senator or councillor to take on the party leadership. It is also recommended the voting process for a new leader be done on a "sliding scale," giving less weight to the parliamentary party vote numbers, which have fallen from 13 to just four.

Previously the group had held 40 per cent of the vote, with 30 per cent going to councillors and 30 per cent going to the party membership.

A PDs spokesman said the recommendations would be decided on at the next executive meeting. "They will go away and cogitate on this now and they will come back and decide if they like it or not."

The PDs lost six TDs in the election, with Ms Harney and Mr Grealish the only representatives to make it into the Dáil. Michael McDowell resigned as leader, and Ms Harney has said she is retiring at the next election.