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Séamus Brennan

In office
14 June 2007 – 6 May 2008
Preceded by John O'Donoghue
Succeeded by Martin Cullen

In office
June 1981 – July 2008
Preceded by New constituency
Succeeded by George Lee
Constituency Dublin South

Born 16 February 1948(1948-02-16)
Galway, Ireland
Died 9 July 2008 (aged 60)
Dublin, Ireland
Nationality Irish
Political party Fianna Fáil
Spouse(s) Ann Brennan
Alma mater University College Galway,
University College Dublin

Séamus Brennan (16 February 1948 – 9 July 2008) was a senior Irish Fianna Fáil politician and a Teachta Dála (TD) for Dublin South. He served as a Minister of State, Minister for Tourism and Transport (1989–91), Minister for Tourism, Transport and Communications (1991–92), Minister for Education (1992–93), Minister for Transport (2002–04), Minister for Social and Family Affairs (2004–07) and Minister for Arts, Sport and Tourism (2007–08).


Early life

Séamus Brennan was born in Galway. He was educated at St. Joseph's Secondary School, Galway, University College Galway and University College Dublin where he studied Economics and Commerce and qualified as an accountant. Brennan found an interest in politics during his teens when he canvassed for Fianna Fáil during elections. In 1973 he succeeded Tommy Mullins as General Secretary of Fianna Fáil.[1] He began to revamp the party structure with the setting up of a national executive. Brennan studied and was impressed by the Presidential Election in the United States in 1976. He applied new techniques such as marketing strategies and opinion polls to the 1977 general election. This resulted in the biggest ever parliamentary majority for any party. Fianna Fáil and Jack Lynch were back in power with a 20-seat majority. Brennan was appointed to Seanad Éireann.[2]

Entry into politics

In 1979 Brennan supported George Colley in the Fianna Fáil leadership contest, caused by the retirement of Jack Lynch. However, Charles Haughey was narrowly successful and a new Secretary General of the party was appointed. At the 1981 general election, Brennan was elected to Dáil Éireann for the Dublin South constituency and was returned at every subsequent election until his death in 2008.[3] In the early 1980s he was a prominent member of the Gang of 22 who tried unsuccessfully to wrestle control of the Fianna Fáil party from Haughey. He supported Colley, and later Desmond O'Malley, in various leadership heaves throughout the whole era. It was widely expected that Brennan would join the Progressive Democrats when they were founded by O'Malley in 1985 but instead he remained within Fianna Fáil.

In 1987 Haughey's Fianna Fáil party were returned to office and Brennan was appointed Minister of State with responsibility for Trade and Marketing. In 1989 he became a full Cabinet Minister when he was appointed Minister for Tourism and Transport. In 1991 his brief was widened when the Communications portfolio came under his control. In 1992 Albert Reynolds succeeded Haughey as Taoiseach. Brennan was one of the few ministers in Haughey's Cabinet who remained in Reynolds' new government. He was appointed Minister for Education. In 1993 a Fianna FáilLabour Party coalition came to power and Brennan was demoted to Minister of State for Commerce and Technology. He remained in this position until 1994.

Recent life

In 1995 Fianna Fáil were in opposition and the new party leader, Bertie Ahern designated Brennan as Opposition spokesperson for Transport, Energy and Communications. In 1997 Fianna Fáil returned to power and Brennan became Government Chief Whip and Minister of State at the Department of the Taoiseach and Department of Defence. He became the Minister for Transport in 2002.

In the cabinet reshuffle of September 2004, Brennan was moved to the post of Minister for Social and Family Affairs. He was bitterly disappointed but he refused to describe it as a demotion.[1] After the 2007 general election, he played a key role in the negotiations with the Green Party, which led to the formation of the current Government.[1] He did not seek ministerial office in Brian Cowen's cabinet and tendered his resignation on 6 May 2008, for medical reasons.[4]


Séamus Brennan died in the early hours of 9 July 2008 at his home in Churchtown in Dublin. He had been unwell for some time.[5] He is survived by his wife Ann, their two sons and four daughters. Brian Cowen said Brennan would be remembered as "a brilliant political strategist, a dedicated constituency TD, a reforming minister and a very popular colleague".[6]


His son, Shay Brennan, was the unsuccessful Fianna Fáil candidate at the Dublin South by-election, 2009.[7] George Lee of Fine Gael won the subsequent by-election.


Preceded by
New constituency
Fianna Fáil Teachta Dála for Dublin South
Succeeded by
George Lee
(Fine Gael)
Political offices
Preceded by
New office
Minister of State (with special responsibility for Trade and Marketing)
Succeeded by
Terry Leyden
Preceded by
John Wilson
Minister for Tourism and Transport
Succeeded by
as Minister for Tourism, Transport and Communications
Preceded by
as Minister for Tourism and Transport
Minister for Tourism, Transport and Communications
Succeeded by
Máire Geoghegan-Quinn
Preceded by
Noel Davern
Minister for Education
Succeeded by
Niamh Bhreathnach
Preceded by
Michael Ahern
Minister of State (with special responsibility for Commerce and Technology)
Succeeded by
Pat Rabbitte
Preceded by
Jim Higgins
Minister of State at the Department of the Taoiseach
(Government Chief Whip)

Succeeded by
Mary Hanafin
Minister of State at the Department of Defence
Preceded by
Mary O'Rourke
as Minister for Public Enterprise
Minister for Transport
Succeeded by
Martin Cullen
Preceded by
Mary Coughlan
Minister for Social and Family Affairs
Preceded by
John O'Donoghue
Minister for Arts, Sport and Tourism


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