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Michael O'Kennedy

In office
12 December 1979 – 16 December 1980
Preceded by George Colley
Succeeded by Gene Fitzgerald

Born 21 February 1936 (1936-02-21) (age 73)
Nenagh, Ireland
Political party Fianna Fáil

Michael O'Kennedy (born 21 February 1936) is a former Irish Fianna Fáil politician. He served in Seanad Éireann from 1965 until 1969 and again from 1992 until 1997. He was first elected to Dáil Éireann as a Fianna Fáil Teachta Dála (TD) in 1969 serving until 1992. He was re-elected again in 1997, serving until 2002.

O'Kennedy was born in Nenagh, County Tipperary in February 1936. He was educated at St. Flannan's, Ennis, St. Patrick's College, Maynooth and University College Dublin. Married with children; he qualified as a barrister from King's Inns in Dublin and was appointed Senior Counsel twelve years later in 1973. In 1965 he was unsuccessful in his bid to win a Dáil seat for Fianna Fáil in Tipperary North. He was, however, appointed to Seanad Éireann. At the 1969 general election he was elected to the Dáil Éireann and became Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Education the following year. He was appointed to the government as Minister without Portfolio in 1972 before becoming Minister for Transport and Power in January 1973. His period as Minister was short-lived because Fianna Fáil lost power at the general election March that year.

During Fianna Fáil's period in opposition O'Kennedy revealed his leadership aspirations. In 1975 he became associated with a hardline policy document regarding Northern Ireland. The document called for a withdrawal of the British Government from Northern Ireland. This was against the wishes of the party and was against Fianna Fáil party policy. In 1977 Fianna Fáil returned to power and O'Kennedy was appointed Minister for Foreign Affairs.

In 1979 Jack Lynch resigned as Taoiseach and leader of Fianna Fáil. Charles Haughey faced George Colley in the leadership contest to succeed Lynch. O'Kennedy was the only cabinet minister to publicly support Haughey for Taoiseach. Many believe that it was because of this support that Haughey was successful in becoming Taoiseach. O'Kennedy's loyalty was rewarded when he was appointed Minister for Finance in Haughey's first government. In 1981 O'Kennedy became Ireland's European Commissioner.

O'Kennedy returned to Ireland in 1982 to contest the general election. Haughey returned to power and O'Kennedy demanded a senior government position, however, his request was refused. Haughey did offer him the post of Attorney General but O'Kennedy declined. As a result he was left out of the short-lived administration. In 1987 O'Kennedy returned to the Cabinet when he became Minister for Agriculture and Food.

O'Kennedy was an important part of the Haughey camp until Albert Reynolds became Taoiseach in 1992. O'Kennedy was one of the few Haughey-ites to remain in the government. He was appointed Minister for Labour in what was generally seen as a demotion. Worse was to come when he failed to retain his Dáil seat in the 1992 general election. He once again returned to Seanad Éireann. O'Kennedy was re-elected in the 1997 general election. That same year he sought the Fianna Fáil nomination for President of Ireland but only received a mediocre 21 votes out of a total of 112. After the 2002 general election he retired from national politics. He now works as a barrister and is a member of the Refugee Appeals Tribunal.

References

Oireachtas
Preceded by
John Fanning
(Fianna Fáil)
Fianna Fáil Teachta Dála for Tipperary North
1969–1981
Succeeded by
David Molony
(Fine Gael)
Preceded by
Michael Smith]]
(Fianna Fáil)
Fianna Fáil Teachta Dála for Tipperary North
1982–1992
Succeeded by
John Ryan
(Labour Party)
Preceded by
John Ryan
(Labour)
Fianna Fáil Teachta Dála for Tipperary North
1997–2002
Succeeded by
Máire Hoctor
(Fianna Fáil)
Political offices
Preceded by
Bobby Molloy
Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Education
1970–1973
Succeeded by
Jim Tunney
Preceded by
Minister without Portfolio
1972–1973
Succeeded by
Preceded by
Brian Lenihan
Minister for Transport and Power
Jan–Mar 1973
Succeeded by
Peter Barry
Preceded by
Garret FitzGerald
Minister for Foreign Affairs
1977–1979
Succeeded by
Brian Lenihan
Preceded by
George Colley
Minister for Finance
1979–1980
Succeeded by
Gene Fitzgerald
Minister for the Public Service
1979–1980
Preceded by
Richard Burke
Irish European Commissioner
1981
Succeeded by
Richard Burke
Preceded by
Austin Deasy
Minister for Agriculture and Food
1987–1991
Succeeded by
Joe Walsh
Preceded by
Bertie Ahern
Minister for Labour
1991–1992
Succeeded by
Brian Cowen

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