Mary McAleese: Wikis


Note: Many of our articles have direct quotes from sources you can cite, within the Wikipedia article! This article doesn't yet, but we're working on it! See more info or our list of citable articles.

Did you know ...

More interesting facts on Mary McAleese

Include this on your site/blog:


From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Mary McAleese

Assumed office 
11 November 1997
Preceded by Mary Robinson

Born 27 June 1951 (1951-06-27) (age 58)
Belfast, Northern Ireland
Nationality Irish
Political party Independent (2004–)
Fianna Fáil (1987–2004)
Spouse(s) Martin McAleese
Children 3
Profession Pro-Vice Chancellor of QUB,
Religion Roman Catholic

Mary Patricia McAleese (Irish: Máire Pádraigín Bean Mhic Ghiolla Íosa;[1][2] born 27 June 1951) is the eighth and current President of Ireland. Prior to becoming president she was a barrister, journalist and academic.

McAleese is Ireland's second female president and the world's first woman to succeed another woman as an elected head of state. She was first elected president in 1997 and won a second term, without a contest, in 2004. Her birth in Belfast means she is the first President to have come from Northern Ireland. She is a member of the Council of Women World Leaders.



McAleese was born Mary Patricia Leneghan (Irish: Máire Pádraigín Ní Lionnacháin) in Ardoyne, Belfast where she grew up. She is a Roman Catholic.[3] Her family was forced to leave the area by loyalists when the Troubles broke out.[4] She was educated at St Dominic's High School, she also spent some time when younger with the Poor Clares, the Queen's University of Belfast (from which she graduated in 1973), and Trinity College Dublin. She was called to the Northern Ireland Bar in 1974 and is today also a member of the Bar in the Republic of Ireland. In 1975 she was appointed Reid Professor of Criminal Law, Criminology and Penology in Trinity College,[5] succeeding Mary Robinson[citation needed] (a succession that would repeat itself twenty years later, when McAleese assumed the presidency).

During the same decade she acted as legal advisor to, and a founding member of, the Campaign for Homosexual Law Reform, but she left this position in 1979 to join RTÉ as a journalist and presenter, during one period as a reporter and presenter for their Today Tonight programme. In 1976, she married Martin McAleese. In 1981 she returned to the Reid Professorship, but continued to work part-time for RTÉ for a further four years. In 1987 she returned to Queen's University to become Director of the Institute of Professional Legal Studies. In the same year she stood, unsuccessfully, as a Fianna Fáil candidate in the general election.

McAleese was a member of the Catholic Church Episcopal Delegation to the New Ireland Forum in 1984 and a member of the Catholic Church delegation to the Northern Ireland Commission on Contentious Parades in 1996. She was also a delegate to the 1995 White House Conference on Trade and Investment in Ireland and to the subsequent Pittsburgh Conference in 1996. In 1994,[citation needed] she became the Pro-Vice Chancellor of the Queen's University of Belfast,[3] the first woman and second Catholic to hold the position. Prior to becoming president in 1997 McAleese had also held the following positions: Director of Channel 4 Television, Director, Northern Ireland Electricity, Director, Royal Group of Hospitals Trust and Founding member of the Irish Commission for Prisoners Overseas.

She disapproves of both abortion and divorce.[3]


She is married to Martin McAleese, an accountant and a dentist by profession.[6] He has assisted his wife with some of her initatives as President.[7][8][9] They have three children: eldest daughter Emma graduated as an engineer from University College, Dublin and is now a dentistry student at Trinity College, Dublin, and her siblings are twins: Justin, an accountant with a master's degree from University College Dublin, and SaraMai, who obtained a master's degree in biochemistry at the University of Oxford.[10] All the family are said to be "fitness fanatics" bar Justin.[10]

All three McAleese children maintain a low profile.[10][11] The President has spoken of the difficulties faced by SaraMai who found the relocation to Áras an Uachtaráin particularly difficult.[10] However, there have been a few occasions on which they have made themselves known. They have appeared in a television documentary and were seen in public during President of the United States Bill Clinton's visit to Áras an Uachtaráin.[10] There was criticism from a "demeaned" gardaí in 2006 when a garda in the employment of the President drove Emma to her workplace.[10] Justin's online blog in the same year featured extracts describing visits to the White House and the Library of Congress while on a trip to Washington, D.C.[10] Emma attracted media attention in 2009 when she announced her marriage to Michael O'Connell, a barrister who is the son of former Kerry GAA player Mick O'Connell.[5][11][12]


Presidental styles of
Mary McAleese
Coat of arms of Ireland.svg
Reference style Uachtarán, President
Spoken style Uachtarán, President
Alternative style A Soilse, Her Excellency

McAleese is a member of the Council of Women World Leaders, an International network of current and former women presidents and prime ministers whose mission is to mobilize the highest-level women leaders globally for collective action on issues of critical importance to women and equitable development.[13]

First term (1997–2004)

In 1997 McAleese defeated former Taoiseach Albert Reynolds in an internal party election held to determine the Fianna Fáil nomination for the Irish presidency. In 1990 the journalist and commentator Eoghan Harris referred to her as a "tribal time bomb".[14]

Her opponents in the 1997 presidential election were Mary Banotti of Fine Gael, Adi Roche (the Labour Party candidate) and two independents: Dana Rosemary Scallon and Derek Nally. Some people at the time expressed anger at the thought of having McAleese and Scallon, both from Northern Ireland, as President of Ireland.[3]

She won the seat for presidency with 45.2% of first preference votes. In the second and final count against Banotti, she won 58.7% of preferences. On 11 November 1997, she was inaugurated as the eighth President of Ireland, the first time in history that a woman had succeeded another woman as an elected head of state anywhere in the world.

McAleese described the theme of her presidency as "building bridges". The first individual born in Northern Ireland to become President of Ireland, President McAleese is a regular visitor to Northern Ireland, where she has been on the whole warmly welcomed by both communities, confounding the critics who had believed she would be a divisive figure. People from Northern Ireland are regular and recurring visitors to Áras an Uachtaráin while she is there.[6] She is also an admirer of Queen Elizabeth II, whom she came to know when she was Pro-Vice Chancellor of Queen's. It is said to be one of her major personal ambitions to host the first ever visit to the Republic of Ireland by a British head of state.[citation needed] In March 1998, McAleese announced that she would officially celebrate the Twelfth of July as well as Saint Patrick's Day, recognising the day's importance among Ulster Protestants. She also incurred some criticism from the Irish Roman Catholic hierarchy by taking communion in an Anglican (Church of Ireland) Cathedral in Dublin.

Second term (2004–)

McAleese's initial seven year term of office ended in November 2004, but she announced on 14 September of that year that she would be standing for a second term in the 2004 presidential election. Following the failure of any other candidate to secure the necessary support for a nomination, the incumbent president stood unopposed, with no political party affiliation, and was declared elected on 1 October. She was officially re-inaugurated at the commencement of her second seven year term on 11 November. McAleese's very high job approval ratings were widely seen as the reason for her re-election, with no opposition party willing to bear the cost (financial or political) of competing in an election that would prove very difficult to win.[15]

On 27 January 2005, following her attendance at the ceremony commemorating the sixtieth anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz concentration camp, she caused controversy by making reference to the way in which some Protestant children in Northern Ireland had been brought up to hate Catholics just as European children "for generations, for centuries" were encouraged to hate Jews.[16][17][18] These remarks caused outrage among unionist politicians. McAleese later apologised,[19] conceding that, because she had criticised only the sectarianism found on one side of the community, her words had been unbalanced.

McAleese in Toronto, Canada, 2007

On 22 May 2005, she was the Commencement Speaker at Villanova University in Villanova, Pennsylvania, USA The visit prompted protests by conservatives due to the President's professing heterodox Roman Catholic views on homosexuality and women in priesthood. She was the commencement speaker at the University of Notre Dame on 21 May 2006. In her commencement address, among other topics, she spoke of her pride at Notre Dame's Irish heritage, including the nickname the "Fighting Irish".

She attended the funeral of Pope John Paul II on 8 April 2005 and the the Papal Inaugration of Pope Benedict XVI on 24 April.

Since 19 November 2005, she is the longest-serving current female elected Head of State following the retirement of Chandrika Kumaratunga of Sri Lanka.

On 3 June 2007 McAleese attended the canonization by Pope Benedict XVI in Rome of Saint Charles of Mount Argus,[20] her fifth visit to the Vatican in two years.[citation needed] She was accompanied by Martin McAleese, Cardinal Desmond Connell, Minister for Education and Science Mary Hanafin, bishops and other pilgrims.[21] She later met the Pope and embarked on other official duties, including a trip to St. Isidore's College, a talk at the Pontifical Irish College and a Mass said especially for the Irish Embassy at Villa Spada chapel.[22]

In August 2007, President Mary McAleese spoke out against homophobia at the International Association of Suicide Prevention 24th Biennial Conference.[23]

In December 2008, she embarked on a seven-day visit to Hollywood alongside Enterprise Ireland and the Irish Film Board on a mission to promote the Irish film and television industry.[24] A reception held in her honour was attended by Ed Begley, Jr. and Fionnula Flanagan.[24] She later met the Governor of California, Arnold Schwarzenegger.[24]

On 21 January 2009 she signed into law the Anglo Irish Bank Corporation Act 2009 at a ceremony in Áras an Uachtaráin, facilitating the nationalisation of Anglo Irish Bank.[25]

In November 2009 she signed into law the National Asset Management Agency.[26]

Adrian O'Neill was appointed as Secretary-General to the President on 9 February 2010 and he will take up his duties in March. His appointment follows the retirement of Tim O'Connor. O'Connor had served as Secretary-General to the President since March 2007.[27]

McAleese underwent an official two-day visit to London from 28 February 2010, where among other things she visited the site of the 2012 Summer Olympics and was guest of honour at the Madejski Stadium for a rugby union match between London Irish and Harlequin F.C.[28]

Council of State


An inspection of the Eastern Reserve Brigade Guard of Honour by President Mary McAleese on the 93rd anniversary of the 1916 rising on O'Connell Street in Dublin
No. Article Reserve power Subject Outcome
1. 1999 meeting Address to the Oireachtas The new millennium Address given
2. 2000 meeting Referral of bill to the Supreme Court Planning and Development Bill, 1999
Illegal Immigrants (Trafficking) Bill, 1999
Sections of both bills referred
(Both upheld)
3. 2002 meeting Referral of bill to the Supreme Court Housing (Miscellaneous Provisions) (No. 2) Bill, 2001 Bill not referred
4. 2004 meeting Referral of bill to the Supreme Court Health (Amendment) (No. 2) Bill 2004 Bill referred
(Struck down)
5. 2009 meeting Referral of bill to the Supreme Court Criminal Justice (Amendment) Bill 2009
Defamation Bill 2009
Bills not referred

Presidential appointees

First term

Second term

Awards and honorary doctorates

McAleese has received awards and honorary doctorates throughout her career.

On 3 May 2007, she was awarded the The American Ireland Fund Humanitarian Award.

On 31 October 2007 she was awarded an honorary doctorate of laws from the University of Otago, New Zealand.

On 19 May 2009 she became the third living person to be awarded the freedom of Kilkenny, succeeding Brian Cody and Séamus Pattison.[29] The ceremony, at which she was presented with two hurleys, took place at Kilkenny Castle.[29]

On 24 May 2009 she was awarded an honorary doctorate of law from Mount Holyoke College, in, South Hadley, Massachusetts.


  1. ^ "Beathnaiséisí Máire Mhic Ghiolla Íosa" (in Gaelic). Retrieved 5 January 2007. 
  2. ^ Mary McAleese
  3. ^ a b c d James F. Clarity (1997-09-26). "Irishwomen Find Niche (And It's Not In Kitchen)". The New York Times. Retrieved 2009-12-23. 
  4. ^ "Biographies Mary McAleese". Retrieved 14 January 2008. 
  5. ^ a b Katherine Donnelly (12 May 2009). "Top scholar Emma proves she's a chip off the old block". Irish Independent. Retrieved 21 December 2009. 
  6. ^ a b "Honorary degree for Martin McAleese". RTÉ News and Current Affairs. 13 June 2007. Retrieved 21 December 2009. 
  7. ^ Brian McDonald (14 April 2009). "Heartbroken town salutes as Robbie 'gets transfer home'". Irish Independent. Retrieved 21 December 2009. 
  8. ^ Vincent Kearney (17 December 2009). "Martin McAleese fails in plan to deliver UDA guns". BBC News. Retrieved 21 December 2009. 
  9. ^ Alan Murray (21 June 2009). "McAleese puts UVF guns out of commission". Irish Independent. Retrieved 21 December 2009. 
  10. ^ a b c d e f g Richie Taylor (9 April 2009). "A very private affair". Irish Independent. Retrieved 21 December 2009. 
  11. ^ a b Cormac Murphy (21 December 2009). "Mary's delight on daughter's wedding day". Evening Herald. Retrieved 21 December 2009. 
  12. ^ Barry Egan (5 April 2009). "Brush with the law for President's daughter". Irish Independent. Retrieved 21 December 2009. 
  13. ^ "Council Members". Council of Women World Leaders. Retrieved 12 December 2009. 
  14. ^ Ruth Dudley Edwards (30 January 2005). "President detonates the tribal time-bomb". Sunday Independent. Retrieved 23 July 2007. 
  15. ^ "President would defeat Higgins, poll shows". The Irish Times. 7 February 2004. Retrieved 28 December 2004. 
  16. ^ Transcript of speech
  17. ^ "McAleese row over Nazi comments". BBC News. 28 January 2005. Retrieved 18 February 2007. 
  18. ^ "McAleese: Protestant children taught to hate Catholics". 27 January 2005. Retrieved 1 September 2007. 
  19. ^ "McAleese 'sorry' over Nazi remark". BBC News. 29 January 2005. Retrieved 18 February 2007. 
  20. ^ Kieron Wood (27 May 2007). "Charles of Mt Argus to be canonised in Rome next weekend". The Sunday Business Post. Retrieved 12 December 2009. 
  21. ^ "Dublin gets new saint". RTÉ News and Current Affairs. 3 June 2007. Retrieved 12 December 2009. 
  22. ^ "Pope canonises Blessed Charles". Irish Examiner. 4 June 2007. Retrieved 12 December 2009. 
  23. ^ [[1]] U.S. National Library of Medicine National, Institutes of Health
  24. ^ a b c Caitriona Palmer (17 December 2008). "Star's welcome as President drops in". Irish Independent. Retrieved 21 December 2009. 
  25. ^ "McAleese signs Anglo Irish Bank Bill". RTÉ News and Current Affairs. 21 January 2009. Retrieved 12 December 2009. 
  26. ^ "Thursday Newspaper Review - Irish Business News and International Stories - - November 26, 2009". Irish Independent via Finfacts Ireland. 26 November 2009. Retrieved 12 December 2009. 
  27. ^ Appointment to President's office
  28. ^ "McAleese to view 2012 Olympics site". Irish Independent. 22 February 2010. Retrieved 22 February 2010. 
  29. ^ a b Conor Kane (20 May 2009). "Cool Cat Mary hopes to capture Kilkenny magic". Irish Independent. Retrieved 21 December 2009. 

Further reading

  • Mary McAleese-The Outsider: An Unauthorised Biography, Justine McCarthy, Dublin, Blackwater Press, 1999
  • Máire Mhic Ghiolla Íosa: Beathaisnéis, Ray Mac Mánais. Irish Language Biography. Later translated as The Road From Ardoyne: The Making Of A President', Ray Mac Mánais, Dingle, Brandon, 2004
  • First citizen: Mary McAleese and the Irish Presidency, Patsy McGarry, Dublin, O'Brien Press, 2008

External links

Simple English

Mary McAleese
President of Ireland

8th President of Ireland
Assumed office 
November 11, 1997
Preceded by Mary Robinson

Born July 27, 1951 (1951-07-27) (age 59)
File:Ulster Belfast, Northern Ireland
Nationality Irish
Political party Fianna Fáil
Spouse Martin McAleese

Mary Patricia McAleese is the eighth President of the Republic of Ireland. She was first elected president in 1997 and was re-elected to another seven years in 2004. She was ranked the 55th most powerful woman in the world on a list of The World's 100 Most Powerful Women by Forbes, despite the ceremonial nature of the presidency.

She is the first President of Ireland to be born in Northern Ireland. She is also Ireland's second woman president, and the first in the world to succeed another woman.

Other pages

Got something to say? Make a comment.
Your name
Your email address