Eileen Desmond

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Eileen Desmond
Eileen Desmond.jpg
Minister for Health
In office
30 June 1981 – 9 March 1982
TaoiseachGarret FitzGerald
Preceded byMichael Woods
Succeeded byMichael Woods
Minister for Social Welfare
In office
30 June 1981 – 9 March 1982
TaoiseachGarret FitzGerald
Preceded byMichael Woods
Succeeded byMichael Woods
Teachta Dála
In office
June 1981 – February 1987
ConstituencyCork South-Central
Teachta Dála
In office
February 1973 – June 1981
In office
March 1965 – June 1969
ConstituencyCork Mid
Member of the European Parliament
In office
1 July 1979 – 20 June 1984
ConstituencyMunster
Senator
In office
20 June 1969 – 19 February 1973
ConstituencyIndustrial and Commercial Panel
Personal details
Born
Eileen Christine Harrington

(1932-12-29)29 December 1932
Kinsale, County Cork, Ireland
Died6 January 2005(2005-01-06) (aged 72)
Cork, Ireland
NationalityIrish
Spouse(s)Dan Desmond
(m. 1958; d. 1965)
Children2
Alma materUniversity College Cork

Eileen Christine Desmond (née Harrington; 29 December 1932 – 6 January 2005) was an Irish Labour Party politician who served as Minister for Health and Minister for Social Welfare from 1981 to 1982. She served as a Teachta Dála (TD) from 1965 to 1969, 1973 to 1981 and 1981 to 1987. She served as a Member of the European Parliament (MEP) for the Munster constituency from 1979 to 1984. She was a Senator for the Industrial and Commercial Panel from 1969 to 1973.[1]

Life[edit]

Eileen Harrington was born in Kinsale, County Cork, and educated locally at the Convent of Mercy in Kinsale, where she was one of only two girls in her class to sit the Leaving Certificate examination. Before entering politics she worked as a civil servant with the Department of Posts and Telegraphs.

Desmond was first elected to Dáil Éireann in a by-election on 10 March 1965, caused by the death of her husband Dan Desmond who had been a Teachta Dála (TD) since 1948.[2] Her victory in the Cork Mid constituency led Taoiseach Seán Lemass to dissolve the 17th Dáil and call a general election. She was elected for the second time in a year, but lost her seat at the 1969 general election. However Desmond was then elected to the 12th Seanad on the Industrial and Commercial Panel, where she served until her re-election to the 20th Dáil at the 1973 general election.

She was elected to the European Parliament at the 1979 European Parliament election for the Munster constituency. However her time in Europe was short-lived, as she returned to domestic politics when she was offered a position as Minister and the chance to impact upon national legislation. At the 1981 general election she switched her constituency to Cork South-Central. A Fine GaelLabour Party coalition came to power and Desmond was appointed Minister for Health and Social Welfare.

Desmond's cabinet appointment was historic, as she was only the second woman to be a member of cabinet since the foundation of the state in 1922, and the first in any Fine Gael or Labour Party cabinet. Countess Markievicz had held the cabinet post of Minister for Labour in the revolutionary First Dáil in 1919, but only one woman had held cabinet office after the foundation of the state, Máire Geoghegan-Quinn of Fianna Fáil who was appointed as Minister for the Gaeltacht in 1979.

Desmond retired from full-time politics at the 1987 general election for health reasons. She died suddenly in 2005.

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Mrs. Eileen Desmond". Oireachtas Members Database. Retrieved 30 December 2011.
  2. ^ "Eileen Desmond". ElectionsIreland.org. Retrieved 30 December 2011.

External links[edit]

Political offices
Preceded by
Michael Woods
Minister for Health
1981–1982
Succeeded by
Michael Woods
Minister for Social Welfare
1981–1982