Busted: PD founders Mary Harney and Des O'Malley

THE PROGRESSIVE Demo­crats are labelled "a barrel of badgers" and Michael McDowell is compared to "a Fianna Fáil councillor in Mayo" for halting the development of the 'Bertie Bowl' in a lively new documentary about the defunct party.

The PDs: From Boom to Bust is a two-part series which charts the rise and fall of the party. The first part of the documentary will be broadcast on RTé One television tomorrow night and it details some of the in-fighting in a party that punched above its weight until its collapse in 2008.

Tomorrow's programme documents the way Michael McDowell dubbed the proposed Bertie Bowl stadium project "Ceausescu-like". Eight years on, former taoiseach Bertie Ahern claims that McDowell's opposition to the Bertie Bowl was motivated by the fact that the Lansdowne Road stadium was in his Dublin South-East constituency.

Ahern claims McDowell was only looking out for the cafes and bars there and added, "it was like something a Fianna Fáil councillor in Mayo would do".

The documentary uses archive footage of the early days of the party when Des O'Malley departed Fianna Fáil after a failed leadership challenge to Charlie Haughey in 1985.

Charlie McCreevy, one of the Fianna Fáil TDs who nearly left to join the new party when it was first mooted, claims, "Des in my view didn't want to start a party at all. He never would have formed the PDs only Mary Harney pushed him in to forming a new party". Later in the programme, McCreevy says O'Malley "would cause a row in an empty house".

Talking about his decision to join the new party, Noel Grealish, now an independent Galway West TD, gives a frank account of telling his father, a life-long Fianna Fáil supporter, about his move. His father replied with the words, "I have nine sons and only one bastard like you".

Looking back to the early days, former party strategist Stephen O'Byrnes refers to McDowell as "the intellectual powerhouse of the party" and McDowell eloquently describes how the new party offered something new over Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil: "It was a straight choice between the incompetent and the incorrigible."

McDowell and Pat Cox recount their anger at being among the last to know of O'Malley's decision to resign the party leadership, before Harney beat Cox in the leadership race that followed.

Former TDs Liz O'Donnell and Máirín Quill are extremely critical of Cox's departure from the party. Quill says Cox's departure "was like a Greek tragedy".

Charlie McCreevy is termed a PD minister in his heart by McDowell: "Whatever about the shirt he was wearing for the team photo… he did what the Progressive Democrats intended to do anyway."

Scathing of McCreevy, Pat Rabbitte who labels the party a "barrel of badgers", says, "If the PDs set out to leave a cuckoo in the Fianna Fáil nest and to have him appointed minister of finance, they couldn't have planned it better… McCreevy was at the heart of the PD philosophy and applied it with gay abandon".