Emily O'Reilly

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Emily O'Reilly
Emily O’Reilly Senate of Poland.JPG
Emily O'Reilly in the Polish Senate (2014)
European Ombudsman
Assumed office
1 October 2013
Preceded by Nikiforos Diamandouros

Emily O'Reilly is an author and former journalist and broadcaster who became Ireland's first female Ombudsman in 2003, succeeding Kevin Murphy. On 3 July 2013, she was voted European Ombudsman by the European Parliament.[1] She was re-elected on 16 December 2014 for a mandate of five years.[2] She was educated at University College Dublin, Trinity College, Dublin, and Harvard University, where she was awarded a Nieman Fellowship in journalism.[3]


She began her career as a journalist in the 1970s. Since then, she has held senior positions with The Irish Press and the Sunday Tribune, as well as serving as a political columnist at The Sunday Times and as the Political Editor of The Sunday Business Post. In 1998, she became the editor of Magill magazine. She resigned in September 1999 when the magazine's sister publication, In Dublin, was banned by the Censorship of Publications Appeal Board for advertising brothels and prostitution services. [1] O'Reilly was also a broadcaster on Raidió Teilifís Éireann (RTÉ) and Today FM.

In the course of her journalistic career, she won two awards: Journalist of the Year and Woman Journalist of the Year.

Ombudsman and Information Commissioner[edit]

On 1 June 2003, she received her Warrant of Appointment as Irish Ombudsman and Information Commissioner from the then President of Ireland, Mary McAleese, at Áras an Uachtaráin. She has said of her job title, "I will be an ombudswoman but will have no difficulty in being referred to as either". [2]

From 2007 O'Reilly was also appointed Commissioner for Environmental Information under the Access to Information on the Environment Regulations (S.I. No. 133 of 2007).[4]

She retired from these positions and was succeeded by Peter Tyndall in December 2013.[5]

Transparency and accountability of Irish public bodies[edit]

In a speech delivered in Dublin on 20 June 2006 to the Institute of Public Administration, O'Reilly criticised some Irish public bodies for retreating from dealing personally with the public through the use of call centres and the Internet. She cited the Revenue Commissioners in this context, pointing out that a significant proportion of the clients of these bodies are not computer literate and therefore the level of personal contact is inadequate as a consequence.[citation needed] She also believed that public access to information under the Freedom of Information Act had been "excessively curtailed", often in order to protect sectional interests, such as the performance of schools.[6] She advised that the Act should be extended to include a number of public bodies previously exempted from the law, including the Garda Síochána, the Central Bank of Ireland and the National Asset Management Agency[7] and that fees charged were a further inhibitor.[6][dead link]

O'Reilly is the author of three books: Candidate: The Truth Behind the Presidential Campaign (1991), about President of Ireland Mary Robinson; Masterminds of the Right (1992) about politicised Catholic fundamentalism in Ireland; and the controversial biography, Veronica Guerin (1998).[8]



  1. ^ New EU ombudsman elected (EUobserver)
  2. ^ O'Reilly re-elected as ombudsman (EUobserver)
  3. ^ "The Ombudsman's Office/Previous Office Holders". The Office of the Ombudsman Ireland. Retrieved 13 July 2016. 
  4. ^ OCEI website http://www.ocei.gov.ie/en/AboutUs/ Archived 6 April 2010 at the Wayback Machine.
  5. ^ President appoints Peter Tyndall as Ombudsman and Information Commissioner The Office of the Ombudsman, 2013-12-02.
  6. ^ a b O'Reilly, Emma (20 June 2006). "Ombudsman's Speeches: Speech at the Launch of the Diploma in Management of Modern Public Service Delivery (20.06.2006)". ombudsman.gov.ie. Archived from the original on 1 February 2014. Retrieved 30 January 2014. 
  7. ^ Wade, Jennifer (4 May 2011). "Information Commissioner wants FOI legislation extended". theJournal.ie. Retrieved 30 January 2014. 
  8. ^ The Second Fall of Veronica Guerin (BBC News Online)

External links[edit]