John O'Dowd

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John O'Dowd
John O'Dowd.jpg
Minister for Education
In office
16 May 2011 – 25 May 2016
First Minister Peter Robinson
Arlene Foster
deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness
Preceded by Caitríona Ruane
Succeeded by Peter Weir
deputy First Minister of Northern Ireland
In office
20 September 2011 – 31 October 2011
Serving with Peter Robinson
Preceded by Martin McGuinness
Succeeded by Martin McGuinness
Member of the Northern Ireland Assembly
for Upper Bann
Assumed office
26 November 2003
Preceded by Dara O'Hagan
Personal details
Born (1967-05-10) 10 May 1967 (age 49)
Tullylish, Northern Ireland
Nationality Irish
Political party Sinn Féin
Spouse(s) Mary O'Dowd
Children 3
Occupation Politician
Profession Chef
Religion Roman Catholic

John Fitztgerald O'Dowd MLA (born 10 May 1967) is an Irish Sinn Féin politician. He has been the Minister for Education in the Stormont Executive since 2011 and the Member of the Northern Ireland Assembly for Upper Bann since 2003. He briefly took on the duties of deputy First Minister in 2011 while Martin McGuinness ran in the 2011 Irish presidential election.

Early career[edit]

O'Dowd was born in 1967 in a rural community between Lurgan and Banbridge.[1]

O'Dowd says the defining political moment of his life was the 1981 hunger strikes. His political hero was Sheena Campbell, a republican activist who was murdered as she drank with friends in the bar of the York Hotel in south Belfast.[2]

O'Dowd previously trained as a chef before engaging in politics.[2] He began his political career serving for 14 years as a councillor on Craigavon Council and previously served as a school governor.[3] O'Dowd has served as Chair of Upper Bann Sinn Féin and a member of the party's Six County Executive, O'Dowd was leader of the Sinn Féin group on Craigavon Council.[3] In 2003 he was elected as MLA for Upper Bann. Between 2007 and 2011 he was Sinn Féin group leader in the Assembly and served as Chair of the Public Accounts Committee before becoming a member of the Education Committee in 2008.[1]

Following the 2011 Northern Ireland Assembly election John O'Dowd was nominated by Sinn Féin to assume the duties of the office for Minister for Education.

Acting Deputy First Minister[edit]

Following the decision by Sinn Féin to nominate Martin McGuinness as its candidate in the 2011 Irish presidential election, it was announced on 16 September 2011 that O'Dowd would be fulfil the duties of deputy First Minister on a temporary basis.[4] On 31 October 2011, McGuinness resumed his duties as deputy First Minister after finishing third in the Irish presidential election.

Personal life[edit]

O'Dowd is married with 3 young children.[1]


  1. ^ a b c "Minister for Education". Department for Education, Northern Ireland. Retrieved 22 May 2013. 
  2. ^ a b "Remarkable year for new deputy first minister John O'Dowd". BBC. 
  3. ^ a b "Upper Bann – John O'Dowd | Sinn Féin". Sinn Féin. 
  4. ^ John O'Dowd. "UTV News – O'Dowd ready for acting DFM role". UTV. 
Northern Ireland Assembly
Preceded by
Dara O'Hagan
MLA for Upper Bann
2003 – present
Succeeded by
Political offices
Preceded by
Caitriona Ruane
Minister of Education
2011 – present
Succeeded by
Political offices
Preceded by
Martin McGuinness
deputy First Minister of Northern Ireland

Succeeded by
Martin McGuinness