Mary O'Rourke

From Academic Kids

Mary O'Rourke (born May 31, 1937), is a senior Irish politician. She was first elected as a Fianna Fáil TD in 1982 and at each election until 2002. She has served as Minister for Education (1987-1991), Minister for Health (1991-1992) and Minister for Public Enterprise (1997-2002). O'Rourke was deputy-leader of Fianna Fáil from 1994 until 2002. She is currently the leader of Fianna Fáil in Seanad Éireann.

Mary Lenihan was born on May 31, 1937 in Athlone, County Westmeath. She was the daughter of Patrick Lenihan, a Fianna Fáil TD. She was educated at St. Peter's, Athlone, Loretto Convent, County Wicklow, University College Dublin and Maynooth. She worked as a secondary school teacher before she began her political career. O'Rourke worked in local politics on Athlone Urban District Council between 1974 and 1987 and on Westmeath County Council between 1979 and 1987. In the second general election of 1982 she was elected as a Fianna Fáil TD for the Longford-Westmeath constituency.

In 1987 she was appointed Minister for Education. O'Rourke and her brother, Brian Lenihan, became the first brother and sister in Irish history to serve in the same Cabinet. O'Rourke became Minister for Health in November 1991 following the re-shuffling of the Cabinet. In February 1992 Charles Haughey resigned as Taoiseach and Fianna Fáil leader. O'Rourke contested the leadership of the Party along with Michael Woods and Albert Reynolds. Reynolds easily beat the other two contenders and O'Rourke was subsequently dropped from the Cabinet. She was, however, appointed Minister for State at the Departments of Industry and Commerce, and later Enterprise and Employment.

In 1994 Bertie Ahern became leader of Fianna Fáil and O'Rourke was appointed Deputy-Leader of Fianna Fáil. Following Ahern's election as Taoiseach in June 1997 O'Rourke became Minister for Public Enterprise. She lost her Dáil seat in the 2002 general election. She is currently leader of Fianna Fáil in the upper house of the Oireachtas - Seanad Éireann.

Two of her nephews, Brian Lenihan, Jr and Conor Lenihan, both the sons of her late brother Brian, are currently Ministers of State (junior ministers) in the government of Bertie Ahern.

Political Career


Preceded by:
Patrick Cooney
Minister for Education
1987–1991
Succeeded by:
Noel Davern
Preceded by:
Rory O'Hanlon
Minister for Health
1991–1992
Succeeded by:
John O'Connell
Preceded by:
Alan Dukes
Minister for Public Enterprise
1997–2002
Succeeded by:
Séamus Brennan
Preceded by:
Donie Cassidy
Leader of Seanad Éireann
2002–
Succeeded by:
Current Incumbent

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