Mary Hanafin: Wikis


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Mary Hanafin TD

Assumed office 
7 May 2008
Taoiseach Brian Cowen
Preceded by Martin Cullen

In office
29 September 2004 – 7 May 2008
Preceded by Noel Dempsey
Succeeded by Batt O'Keeffe

Assumed office 
May 1997
Constituency Dún Laoghaire

Born 1 June 1959 (1959-06-01) (age 50)
Thurles, Ireland
Nationality Irish
Political party Fianna Fáil
Spouse(s) Eamon Leahy (deceased)
Alma mater St Patrick's College, Maynooth,
Dublin Institute of Technology
Website Official website

Mary Hanafin (born 1 June 1959) is an Irish Fianna Fáil politician and the current Minister for Social and Family Affairs. She has previously served as Minister for Education and Science. She has been a Teachta Dála (TD) for the Dún Laoghaire constituency since 1997.[1]


Background and personal life

Mary Hanafin was born in Thurles, County Tipperary in 1959, into a family that had a strong association with the Fianna Fáil political party. Her father, Des Hanafin, was heavily involved with the party at local and national levels in the 1960s, later serving as a Senator at various times for over twenty-five years from 1969 until 2002. Hanafin's brother, John Hanafin, is also involved in national politics and, like his father before him, is a member of the Seanad since 2002.

Hanafin was educated at the Presentation Convent in Thurles and St. Patrick's College in Maynooth receiving a Bachelor of Arts degree. She subsequently worked as a secondary school teacher of Irish and History in the Dominican College in Blackrock, County Dublin. Hanafin also obtained a diploma in legal studies at the Dublin Institute of Technology.

Hanafin was married to Eamon Leahy, a Senior Counsel. He died suddenly in 2003.

Early political career

Hanafin was involved in politics from an early age. Her father, Des Hanafin, as well as being a senator for Fianna Fáil, was a founding member of the Society for the Protection of Unborn Children (SPUC) and a staunch opponent of contraception, abortion and divorce. She joined Ógra Fianna Fáil aged fifteen and spoke at her first Ard Fheis two years later. Hanafin first became involved in national politics in 1980 when, at the age of twenty-one, she was elected to the Fianna Fáil national executive, the party's ruling body.

Hanafin unsuccessfully contested a Dáil seat at the 1989 general election for the Dublin South East constituency. She lost her seat on Dublin City Council in 1991 and became involved in the running of the Fianna Fáil party. She was elected as national treasurer in 1993.

Hanafin is also a former president of the National Youth Council of Ireland.

Dáil career

Hanafin was elected to the Dáil Éireann on her second attempt at the 1997 general election for the Dún Laoghaire constituency.[2] In her first few years as a TD she served on a number of Oireachtas committees, including Education and Science, Heritage and the Irish language and Justice, Equality and Women's Affairs. In 2000, Hanafin was appointed Minister of State (with special responsibility for Children), one of a number of new junior ministry positions created by the Government in 1997. She topped the poll in her constituency at the 2002 general election and was appointed to the position of Minister of State at the Department of the Taoiseach; also a junior (non-cabinet) ministry, but with special responsibility as Government Chief Whip.[3]

Minster for Education and Science

Following a cabinet reshuffle in September 2004, Hanafin became Minster for Education and Science. Among her activities in that post: She abandoned the compilation of school league tables initiated during the incumbency of her predecessor, Noel Dempsey. School bus safety was prioritised for Hanafin following the death of five schoolgirls near Navan, County Meath in 2005. This has mandated the provision of one seat per child and of the mandatory usage of seatbelts in school buses. She announced plans for a possible change of entry requirements to third level medical education.[4]

Hanafin was accused in February 2008, of being oblivious to the plight of parents of children with autism, and of taking an imperious view, consistent with her decision to engage in a 68 day court battle with the parents who were attempting to obtain appropriate education for their children through the Applied behavior analysis (ABA) method. She and her Department were accused of ignoring reality of autism education requirements. The mother, Yvonne Ui Cuanachain said: "Well I would reject the Minister's position quite completely and I feel it's actually quite cynically misrepresentative of the situation on the ground. The Department of Education does not support ABA, it does not support ABA within the ABA schools and neither does it support ABA within the eclectic classes."[5]

Minister for Social and Family Affairs

On 7 May 2008, Hanafin was moved from the Education and Science ministry to the Social and Family Affairs portfolio.

During the course of the 2009 local elections, Hanafin became embroiled in a number of controversies. In late April the Mail on Sunday ran a story claiming her office had improperly used Oireachtas envelopes, which are provided at taxpayer expense, to promote a campaign launch for her personal assistant Peter O'Brien who was a candidate in the Dún Laoghaire electoral area. In late May 2009, Hanafin became embroiled in further controversy when a national newspaper ran a story claiming her office had again used tax payer funded resources to promote O'Brien in correspondence to voters in the Dún Laoghaire constituency.[6] O'Brien was not elected at the Local elections.


External links

Preceded by
Niamh Bhreathnach
(Labour Party)
Fianna Fáil Teachta Dála for Dún Laoghaire
Political offices
Preceded by
Frank Fahey
Minister of State (with special responsibility for Children)
Succeeded by
Brian Lenihan
Preceded by
Séamus Brennan
Minister of State at the Department of the Taoiseach
(Government Chief Whip)

Succeeded by
Tom Kitt
Minister of State at the Department of Defence
Preceded by
Noel Dempsey
Minister for Education and Science
Succeeded by
Batt O'Keeffe
Preceded by
Martin Cullen
Minister for Social and Family Affairs

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