Marie-Louise O'Donnell

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Marie-Louise O'Donnell
Assumed office
23 May 2011
Constituency Nominated by the Taoiseach
Personal details
Born Marie Louise O'Donnell
(1952-09-05) 5 September 1952 (age 65)
Castlebar, County Mayo, Ireland
Nationality Irish
Political party Independent
Children 1
Alma mater

Marie-Louise O'Donnell (born 5 September 1952) is an Irish broadcaster and politician who has served as a Senator since May 2011, upon being nominated by the Taoiseach.[1]


From Foxford, County Mayo,[citation needed] she is the daughter of Maire Cranny, a speech and drama teacher in south County Dublin.[2] O'Donnell studied at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama in London where she studied professional acting and theatre directing. She became head of drama at Carysfort Teacher Training College.[2] She was also involved in the setting up of The Helix theatre on the DCU campus.[3] She has an adult son, who studies medicine.[3][2][4]


A lecturer in communications at Dublin City University (DCU), O'Donnell first rose to prominence as a reporter on RTÉ Radio 1's Today with Pat Kenny in the summer of 2010. However, according to a friend who spoke to The Irish Times: ""It's one of those 'overnight success stories' that was actually years in the making. She trained in radio production and presentation with the BBC and presented programmes for BBC Radio 4." A colleague told the same publication "It's extraordinary the amount of people she knows and counts among her friends. Gay Byrne, Charlie McCreevy, many Fine Gael TDs – she's genuinely close to many people. I accompanied her on a trip to America at one stage and she even had a network there."[2]

Political appointment[edit]

In May 2011, Taoiseach Enda Kenny nominated O'Donnell to the 24th Seanad.[5][6] He again nominated her to the 25th Seanad in May 2016.[7] She ousted David Norris from his role as leader of the Seanad's independent group on 29 June 2016; however she is no longer a member of the Technical Group.[8][9]

More recently, in addition to her work with RTÉ and presence in the Seanad, she has appeared as a panellist on TV3's Tonight with Vincent Browne, often featuring in the section of the programme that reviews the following morning's newspapers. She is noted for her persistent and firm defence of Enda Kenny.[10] In March 2018 she sparked criticism after stating teenagers below the age of 18 should “stay away from politics”[11]


  1. ^ "Ms. Marie Louise O'Donnell". Oireachtas Members Database. Retrieved 4 June 2011. 
  2. ^ a b c d Holden, Louise (21 September 2010). "The media's new darling". The Irish Times. 
  3. ^ a b Molony, Julia (20 June 2004). "A drama, but never a crisis". The Irish Independent. 
  4. ^ Humphreys, Joe (2 October 2014). "Senator confirms son affected by medical student loans issue she raised". The Irish Times. 
  5. ^ Edwards, Elaine (20 May 2011). "McAleese appointed to Seanad". The Irish Times. 
  6. ^ "Marie-Louise O'Donnell". Retrieved 20 November 2011. 
  7. ^ Bardon, Sarah (27 May 2016). "FF leader selects three of Taoiseach's 11 Seanad appointees". The Irish Times. 
  8. ^ Lord, Miriam (29 June 2016). "Norris exit prompts wave of indifference: Senator loses out to Marie-Louise O'Donnell as leader of Seanad Independent group". The Irish Times. 
  9. ^ O'Donnell, Marie Louise (21 March 2018). "Electoral (Amendment) (Voting at 16) Bill 2016: Committee Stage". Seanad debates. Retrieved 28 March 2018. 
  10. ^ "Bold Move". 23 February 2016. 
  11. ^ Halpin, Hayley. "'Young people should stay away from politics': Senator criticised for comments as voting age bill blocked". Retrieved 2018-03-27. 

External links[edit]