Geraldine Kennedy

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Geraldine Kennedy
Teachta Dála
In office
February 1987 – June 1989
Constituency Dún Laoghaire
Personal details
Born Geraldine Helen Kennedy
(1951-09-01) 1 September 1951 (age 66)
Tramore, Waterford, Ireland[1]
Political party Fine Gael
Other political
Progressive Democrats
Spouse(s) David Hegarty (m. 1983)
Children 2
Residence Killiney, Dublin, Ireland
Alma mater Dublin Institute of Technology

Geraldine Helen Kennedy (born 1 September 1951) is an Irish journalist and politician she was the first female editor of The Irish Times newspaper. She previously served as a Teachta Dála (TD) for the Dún Laoghaire constituency from 1987 to 1989.[2]

In 1981, Kennedy's telephone, along with those of two other journalists, was tapped by former Minister for Justice Seán Doherty. The revelation in 1992 that Charles Haughey had ordered the phone taps led to Haughey's resignation as Taoiseach.

Early career[edit]

Kennedy studied at Dublin Institute of Technology and began her journalistic career with a regional newspaper, the Munster Express. She moved to the Cork Examiner after less than a year, but spent only a few years there before joining The Irish Times.[3]

On the foundation of the Sunday Tribune in 1980, Kennedy joined it as the paper's political correspondent. The paper's publisher, John Mulcahy, had become familiar with Kennedy when she had contributed to his journal Hibernia. When the Tribune briefly ceased production, Kennedy moved to the Sunday Press.[3]

Early in 1987, Kennedy successfully sued the incumbent Charles Haughey-led Fianna Fáil government for illegally tapping her phone.

Political career[edit]

Kennedy stood in the 1987 general election as a candidate for the newly formed Progressive Democrat party in Dún Laoghaire. She came third in the poll, winning 9.4% of the first-preference vote.[4] She was one of fourteen Progressive Democrat TDs elected to Dáil Éireann in that election — a feat the party never achieved again. Kennedy was appointed the party's spokesperson for foreign affairs.[5]

She stood again in the 1989 general election and won 9% of the first-preference vote but failed to retain her seat.[4]

Return to journalism[edit]

Following her election defeat, Kennedy returned to The Irish Times, then edited by Conor Brady, whom she had worked with at the Tribune when he was the editor. She avoided party-political journalism for several years, but she returned to covering politics in the early 1990s, and became The Irish Times' political editor in 1999. She became the newspaper's first female editor upon the departure of Conor Brady in late 2002.[6] One of her rivals for the editor's chair was the paper's high-profile columnist, Fintan O'Toole.[6][7]

Kennedy was paid more than the editor of Britain's top non-tabloid newspaper The Daily Telegraph, which has a circulation of about 9 times that of The Irish Times. Later columnist Fintan O'Toole told the Sunday Independent: "We as a paper are not shy of preaching about corporate pay and fat cats but with this there is a sense of excess. Some of the sums mentioned are disturbing. This is not an attack on Ms Kennedy, it is an attack on the executive level of pay. There is double-standard of seeking more job cuts while paying these vast salaries."[6]

In September 2006, Kennedy approved the publication of an article in The Irish Times giving confidential details of investigations being made into payments purported to have been made in 1993 to Taoiseach Bertie Ahern. Kennedy refused, upon request of the investigating Tribunal, to provide details of the source of the printed information. She responded that the documents had since been destroyed. Her refusal caused the Tribunal to seek High Court orders compelling her to provide details of the source. On 23 October 2007, the High Court granted the orders compelling her to go before the Tribunal and answer all questions. In its judgment, the High Court, criticising her decision to destroy the documents, said it was an "astounding and flagrant disregard of the rule of law".[8] In 2009, however, the Supreme Court overturned this ruling, holding that the High Court had not struck the correct balance between the journalists’ right to protect their source and the tribunal’s right to confidentiality.[9][10]

Kennedy announced on 12 March 2011 her intention to retire from The Irish Times by September, after a nine-year term as editor.[11] She actually retired in June, and was succeeded by news editor, Kevin O'Sullivan, who succeeded her as editor on 23 June 2011.[12]

In August 2012, she was appointed Adjunct Professor of Journalism at the University of Limerick.[13] She has been awarded five honorary doctorates from Irish universities.[14]


  1. ^ "Ms. Geraldine Kennedy". Oireachtas Members Database. Retrieved 26 May 2010. 
  2. ^ Encyclopedia of International Media and Communications, Donald H. Johnston, ISBN 0-12-387670-2
  3. ^ a b John Horgan: Irish media: a critical history since 1922. Routledge 2001. ISBN 978-0-415-21641-8
  4. ^ a b "Geraldine Kennedy". Retrieved 26 May 2010. 
  5. ^ Maedhbh McNamara, Paschal Mooney: Women in Parliament, Ireland, 1918–2000, Wolfhound Press, Ireland. ISBN 978-0-86327-759-7
  6. ^ a b c "Irish Times staff revolt at editor and directors' 'indefensible' salaries". Irish Independent. 7 August 2005. 
  7. ^ Fintan O'Toole: Ship of fools: how stupidity and corruption sank the Celtic Tiger. Faber and Faber, 2009. ISBN 978-0-571-25268-8
  8. ^ The Irish Times book of the year, Volume 2007. Gill & Macmillan, Dublin, 2007
  9. ^ "Irish Supreme Court Upholds Journalists' Right to Keep Source Confidential". 2 October 2009. 
  10. ^ "A cold, calculated decision to step outside the law". Irish Times. 25 October 2014. 
  11. ^ "'Irish Times' editor to retire". The Irish Times. 12 March 2011. 
  12. ^ "O'Sullivan appointed 'Irish Times' Editor". The Irish Times. 23 June 2011. 
  13. ^ Greenslade, Roy (15 August 2012). "Irish journalists become professors". The Guardian. Guardian Media Group. Retrieved 15 August 2012. 
  14. ^ "Leading Irish Journalists appointed as Adjunct Professors at the University of Limerick". 14 August 2012. 
Preceded by
Liam T. Cosgrave
(Fine Gael)
Progressive Democrats Teachta Dála for Dún Laoghaire
Succeeded by
Brian Hillery
(Fianna Fáil)