The Tánaiste has claimed that Opposition parties would abandon their pledge to keep taxes low if the economy does not generate the resources to fund their spending plans.

The PDs will outline their detailed tax plans tomorrow and Mary Harney challenged other parties to do the same, by outlining how much they will tax and how much they will spend.

In her speech to the Progressive Democrats' annual conference in Limerick, Ms Harney also insisted that there will be a majority of lay people on the Medical Council.

The Minister of Health said doctors should not be concerned about the plan, and that patients and the public interest must come first.

She also criticised politicians who try to raise fear and suspicion of foreigners, describing it as 'poisonous scaremongering'.

No pre-election pact with Fianna Fáil

The conference earlier rejected a call for a pre-election pact with Fianna Fáil.

The proposal, which was opposed by the party leadership, was overwhelmingly defeated.

The vote came after the party president Michael McDowell and the party chief whip Liz O'Donnell reminded delegates that in the past, pre-election pacts had damaged the party.

McDowell addresses PD conference

In an address to delegates at the PD conference, Minister for Justice Michael McDowell said the right to bail must be curtailed for some serious crimes such as drug dealing.

Mr McDowell said he will shortly carry out an evaluation of the way in which bail laws are being applied.

He also promised minimum sentences for gun crimes and he pledged to deal with the issue of civil partnerships, an area he described as currently unjust.

Last night, Mary Harney insisted that fundamental reform of the health service would happen by the time of the next General Election.