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Progressive Democrats

The Progressive Democrats is a small Irish political party founded in the mid 1980s which is currently the junior partner in Bertie Ahern's Fianna Fáil-PD coalition.

The party was founded by Desmond O'Malley, a controversial and brilliant former senior minister in Fianna Fáil governments under Jack Lynch and Charles J. Haughey. O'Malley was strong opponent of Haughey, who became party leader in 1979. He was involved in a number of leadership heaves against the controverial and unpopular Haughey. He was expelled for conduct unbecoming a member of Fianna Fáil when he refused to support the party in a vote in Dáil Éireann, where it was opposing a Bill to liberalise the availability of contraception, which was introduced by the Fine Gael/Labour Party[?] government of Dr. Garret FitzGerald.

O'Malley, along other resigned Fianna Fáil TDs (MPs) Mary Harney[?], Bobby Molloy and Pearse Wyse, along with Fine Gael TD Michael Keating and former Fine Gael activist Michael McDowell[?], set up the new party. Though most of its membership came from people who had defected from Fianna Fáil, it was Fine Gael that it hit the most in the 1987 general election.

The party has served in Irish coalition governments four times, all with Fianna Fáil. It served in Haughey's last administration (1989-92), in Albert Reynolds's first administration (1992), and in Bertie Ahern's two governments to date, (1997-2002; 2002 - present).

After the collapse of Reynolds' first administration, O'Malley retired from the leadership of the party. Mary Harney[?] became the new leader, the first woman to lead any of the major Irish political parties. Harney currently serves as Tánaiste (deputy prime minister).


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