|Minister of State for Overseas Development Assistance
and Human Rights
July 1997 – June 2002
|Preceded by||Joan Burton|
|Succeeded by||Tom Kitt|
November 1992 – May 2007
1 July 1956 |
|Political party||Progressive Democrats (1985-2009)|
|Alma mater||Trinity College, Dublin|
Early and personal life
O'Donnell was born in Dublin in 1956, where her father worked for Guinness. She moved with her family to Limerick when she was 11. She was educated at the Salesian Convent, Limerick, and Trinity College, Dublin, where she was an honours graduate of the Law School. Prior to embarking on a political career, O'Donnell was a Vice Chair of the Women's Political Association and a delegate to the National Women's Council. O'Donnell is married and has 2 children.
At the 1992 general election, she was elected to Dáil Éireann for the Progressive Democrats, representing Dublin South. She was opposition spokesperson on Health and Social Welfare from 1992 to 1993. She was Party whip and Justice spokesperson from 1993 to 1997. Following her return to the 28th Dáil at the 1997 general election, she negotiated the Programme for the Coalition Government between Fianna Fáil and the Progressive Democrats, along with her party colleague Minister of State Bobby Molloy.
O'Donnell was appointed Minister of State at the Department of Foreign Affairs with responsibility for Overseas Development Assistance and Human Rights. She was among the representatives of the Irish Government at the multi-party talks at Stormont, which culminated in the Good Friday Agreement in 1998. She was also a member of the Cabinet sub-committee on Asylum Immigration and related matters. Following the resignation of Bobby Molloy she was appointed Minister of State to the Government in April 2002.
She was re-elected to the 29th Dáil at the 2002 general election as TD for Dublin South. In December 2002, she was awarded the Doolin Memorial Medal for her contribution to Overseas Development and Human Rights. She was the Deputy Leader of the Progressive Democrats from 2006 to 2007. She lost her seat at the 2007 general election.
In September 2007, O'Donnell revealed that she regularly did radio interviews in her underwear while she was a serving politician.
Since leaving public office, she has worked in the media and in public affairs consultancy.
In 2015 O'Donnell was appointed to chair the Road Safety Authority.
|Progressive Democrats Teachta Dála for Dublin South
|Party political offices|
|Deputy leader of the Progressive Democrats
|Minister of State for Overseas Development Assistance and Human Rights
|Minister of State to the Government