Breda O'Brien

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Breda O'Brien
OccupationJournalist, Teacher

Breda O'Brien (born 1962) is an Irish teacher and columnist, writing a weekly column for The Irish Times. O'Brien is a frequent spokesperson for Catholic-based views of political issues such as opposition to abortion and same-sex marriage. She founded the Irish chapter of Feminists for Life in 1992.[1]

Early life and education[edit]

Born in Dungarvan, County Waterford, O'Brien was educated at the Convent of Mercy, Dungarvan and later at the Mater Dei Institute of Education, Dublin.


O'Brien taught at Muckross Park College, a public Catholic girls' school, between 1983 and 1987. She later returned to this post in 1992, and has remained there since. She has worked as a video producer and communications trainer in the Catholic Communications Centre (founded by the Irish Catholic Bishops' Conference), Booterstown, Dublin from 1988 to 1991. She worked as a researcher for RTÉ from 1991 to 1992. Her career as a columnist began with The Sunday Business Post from 1997 to 2000 and continued with The Irish Times.[2]

O'Brien is a patron of the Iona Institute, a conservative Catholic pressure group,[3] and appears regularly in the Irish media as a contributor, supporting the teachings of the Catholic Church.

In her Irish Times column, she has expressed her opposition to abortion in all circumstances, including rape, incest and fatal foetal abnormality,[4] and to same-sex marriage.[5]

Her stance on civil partnerships has changed. Initially opposed to them in 2008,[6][7] and 2010[8][9] by 2015, in the run up to the Irish marriage equality referendum, she claimed to be in support of them.[10][11]

Marriage is already under assault in every way from heterosexuals. Do we wish to redefine it in an even more radical way? ... It is never pleasant to take a stance like this, and it must be a thousand times less pleasant to be the person who is told that important values like equality must take second place to the common good.

— Breda O'Brien, [6]

She is married, and has four children who have been home-schooled.[12][13]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Cummins, Mary (24 September 1992). "'Feminists for Life' to lobby". The Irish Times. p. 4. Retrieved 28 July 2016.
  2. ^ Bourke, Angela, ed. (2002). The Field Day Anthology of Irish Writing: Irish Women's Writing and Traditions, Volume 5. NYU Press. ISBN 9780814799079.
  3. ^ Kayla Hertz. ""Should we let mothers marry their daughters?" conservative Breda O'Brien asks on marriage referendum -". IrishCentral. Retrieved 2 March 2015.
  4. ^ O'Brien, Breda. "Despite some awful dilemmas, abortion is not an option". The Irish Times. Dublin. Retrieved 27 September 2016.
  5. ^ O'Brien, Breda (2 August 2003). "First casualty of sexuality debate is balance". The Irish Times. p. 12. Retrieved 28 July 2016.
  6. ^ a b O'Brien, Breda (12 July 2008). "Same-sex relationships no substitute for marriage". The Irish Times. p. 14. Retrieved 27 September 2016.
  7. ^ O'Brien, Breda (5 July 2008). "Activists using 'homophobia' label as bullying tactic". The Irish Times. p. 14. Retrieved 27 September 2016.
  8. ^ O'Brien, Breda (26 June 2010). "Upside-down world if church denied freedom of speech". The Irish Times. p. 14. Retrieved 27 September 2016.
  9. ^ O'Brien, Breda (6 Feb 2010). "Genuinely tolerant society will not be a cold house for religion". The Irish Times. p. 16. Retrieved 27 September 2016.
  10. ^ Ryan, Órla (22 January 2014). "'Should we allow mothers to marry their daughters?'". Retrieved 16 February 2015.
  11. ^ "Breda O'Brien - interviewed on the Marian Finucane Show". Marian Finucane Show. 22 February 2014. RTÉ Radio 1. Retrieved 16 February 2015.
  12. ^ O'Brien, Breda (9 August 2014). "Defending the right to home educate children". The Irish Times. Retrieved 12 July 2016.
  13. ^ "Breda O'Brien". The Irish Times. Retrieved 12 July 2016.