Mary Hanafin

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Mary Hanafin
Mary Hanafin cropped.jpg
Deputy Leader of Fianna Fáil
In office
20 January 2011 – 9 March 2011
Preceded by Mary Coughlan
Succeeded by Brian Lenihan
Minister for Tourism, Culture and Sport
In office
23 March 2010 – 9 March 2011
Preceded by Martin Cullen
(Arts, Sport and Tourism)
Succeeded by

Leo Varadkar
(Transport, Tourism and Sport)

Jimmy Deenihan
(Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht)
Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Innovation
In office
20 January 2011 – 9 March 2011
Preceded by Batt O'Keeffe
Succeeded by Richard Bruton
(Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation)
Minister for Social and Family Affairs
In office
7 May 2008 – 23 March 2010
Preceded by Martin Cullen
Succeeded by Éamon Ó Cuív
(Social Protection)
Minister for Education and Science
In office
29 September 2004 – 7 May 2008
Preceded by Noel Dempsey
Succeeded by Batt O'Keeffe
Government Chief Whip
In office
6 June 2002 – 29 September 2004
Preceded by Séamus Brennan
Succeeded by Tom Kitt
Minister of State for Children
In office
1 February 2000 – 6 June 2002
Preceded by Frank Fahey
Succeeded by Brian Lenihan
Teachta Dála
In office
June 1997 – February 2011
Constituency Dún Laoghaire
Personal details
Born (1959-06-01) 1 June 1959 (age 56)
Thurles, Ireland
Political party Fianna Fáil
Spouse(s) Eamon Leahy (Deceased)
Alma mater St Patrick's College, Maynooth
Dublin Institute of Technology (DIT)
Profession Teacher
Religion Roman Catholicism

Mary Hanafin (born 1 June 1959) is an Irish Fianna Fáil politician who was a Teachta Dála (TD) for Dún Laoghaire from 1997 to 2011.[1] She served as Government Chief Whip (2002–04), Minister for Education and Science (2004–08), Minister for Social and Family Affairs (2008–10), Minister for Tourism, Culture and Sport (2010–11) and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Innovation (2011). She was briefly Deputy Leader of Fianna Fáil in 2011. She is a Fianna Fáil candidate in Dun Laoghaire for the next general election.

Early and personal life[edit]

Born in Thurles, County Tipperary, Hanafin is the daughter of Des and Mona Hanafin. Her father was a businessman and Fianna Fáil councillor who later served as a Senator at various times for over twenty-five years between 1969 and 2002. Her brother John Hanafin was a member of Seanad Éireann from 2002 to 2011.

Hanafin was educated at the Presentation Convent in Thurles and St. Patrick's College in Maynooth receiving a Bachelor of Arts degree. She subsequently worked as a secondary school teacher of Irish and History in the Dominican College Sion Hill in Blackrock, Dublin. Hanafin also obtained a diploma in legal studies at the Dublin Institute of Technology.

Hanafin married Eamon Leahy, a Senior Counsel, in 1985. He died suddenly on 17 July 2003, aged 46. The couple had no children.

Early political career[edit]

Hanafin was involved in politics from age 15. Her father Des Hanafin, as well as being a Senator for Fianna Fáil, was a founding member of the Society for the Protection of Unborn Children (SPUC) and a staunch opponent of contraception, abortion and divorce. She joined Ógra Fianna Fáil aged fifteen and spoke at her first Ard Fheis two years later. Hanafin first became involved in national politics in 1980 when, at the age of twenty-one, she was elected to the Fianna Fáil national executive, the party's ruling body.

She was elected to Dublin City Council at the 1985 local elections for the Rathmines local electoral area and unsuccessfully contested a Dáil Éireann seat at the 1989 general election for the Dublin South–East constituency. She lost her seat on Dublin City Council in 1991 and became involved in the running of the Fianna Fáil party. She was elected as national treasurer in 1993. Hanafin is also a former president of the National Youth Council of Ireland.

Dáil career[edit]

Hanafin was elected to the Dáil on her second attempt at the 1997 general election for the Dún Laoghaire constituency.[2] In her first few years as a TD, she served on a number of Oireachtas committees, including Education and Science, Heritage and the Irish language and Justice, Equality and Women's Affairs. In 2000 Hanafin was appointed Minister of State for Children, one of a number of new junior ministry positions created by the Government in 1997. She topped the poll in her constituency at the 2002 general election and was appointed to the position of Minister of State at the Department of the Taoiseach; also a junior (non-cabinet) ministry, but with special responsibility as Government Chief Whip.

Minister for Education and Science[edit]

Following a cabinet reshuffle in September 2004 Hanafin became Minister for Education and Science. Among her activities in that post, she abandoned the compilation of school league tables begun by her predecessor Noel Dempsey. She prioritised school bus safety following the death of five schoolgirls near Navan, County Meath in 2005. This has mandated the provision of one seat per child and of the mandatory usage of seatbelts in school buses. She announced plans for a possible change of entry requirements to third level medical education.[3]

Hanafin was accused of bias towards private fee-paying schools in her constituency when awarding building grants to them in 2005. Christian Brothers College, Monkstown Park and St. Andrew's College (Ireland) both received building grants for extensions and works on their buildings. Only Belvedere College, Kilkenny College and Loreto Beaufort, Rathfarnham had previously received money since 1995.[4][5]

In February 2008, it emerged Hanafin, while Government Chief Whip, had assisted poet Cathal Ó Searcaigh obtain an Irish visa for a Nepalese youth. The allegations were contained in the documentary Fairytale of Kathmandu. Hanafin, who admitted being friends with Ó Searcaigh for many years, dismissed the allegations as an "irresponsible piece of journalism".[6] Ó Searcaigh was later investigated by Irish authorities to establish if he should be prosecuted under the Sexual Offences Act for sleeping with boys in Nepal who would be considered under-age in Ireland.[7]

Hanafin was accused in February 2008 of being oblivious to the plight of parents of children with autism, and of taking an imperious view of their parents' situation, when she decided to engage in a 68-day court battle with two parents who were attempting to obtain appropriate education for their children through the Applied behavior analysis (ABA) method. She and her Department were accused of ignoring reality of autism education requirements. The mother, Yvonne Ui Cuanachain, said: "Well I would reject the Minister's position quite completely and I feel it's actually quite cynically misrepresentative of the situation on the ground. The Department of Education does not support ABA, it does not support ABA within the ABA schools and neither does it support ABA within the eclectic classes."[8]

Minister for Social and Family Affairs[edit]

On 7 May 2008 Hanafin was appointed as Minister for Social and Family Affairs.

During the course of the 2009 local elections, Hanafin became embroiled in a number of controversies. In late April the Mail on Sunday ran a story claiming her office had improperly used Oireachtas envelopes, which are provided at taxpayers' expense, to promote a campaign launch for her personal assistant Peter O'Brien who was a candidate in the Dún Laoghaire electoral area. In late May Hanafin became embroiled in further controversy, when a national newspaper ran a story claiming her office had again used taxpayer-funded resources to promote O'Brien in correspondence to voters in the Dún Laoghaire constituency.[9] O'Brien was not elected at those local elections.

Minister for Tourism, Culture and Sport[edit]

On 23 March 2010 Hanafin was moved from Social and Family Affairs to the Tourism, Culture and Sport portfolio. She appointed a Fianna Fáil councillor and friend of Brian Cowen to the board of the Irish Sports Council on her last full day as Tourism, Culture and Sport Minister.[10]

Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Innovation[edit]

Following the resignation of Batt O'Keeffe in January 2011, Hanafin was also appointed as Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Innovation.[11]

2011 general election[edit]

On 22 January 2011, after the resignation of Brian Cowen, Hanafin put her name forward as a candidate for leader of Fianna Fáil. At the 2011 general election Hanafin lost her Dáil seat to Richard Boyd Barrett of the People Before Profit Alliance.[12] She briefly withdrew from public life, but in April 2011 the Fianna Fáil National Executive co-opted Hanafin as one of the five Vice-Presidents of the party.[13]

After national politics[edit]


In January 2012 she appeared as a judge on the TG4 television show, An G-Team.[14] From September 2013 Hanafin undertook a master's degree in American Studies at the Clinton Institute in University College Dublin.

Business Interests[edit]

Hanafin is reported to have extensive business interests. In June 2008, it was reported she owned a 15% shareholding in Reservoir Resources, an oil exploration company.[15] In September 2013, it was reported she had bought shares in a company which owns Zaragoza, a Dublin tapas bar.[16]

Return to politics[edit]

2014 local elections[edit]

In May 2015, Hanafin lodged nomination papers with Dún Laoghaire–Rathdown County Council to contest the local government elections in the Blackrock area against the wishes of Fianna Fáil Leader Micheal Martin.[17][18] Following a 3-week campaign dubbed the "Battle of Blackrock" she was elected taking the second out of six seats in the Blackrock local electoral area.

Dún Laoghaire Rathdown County Council[edit]

State pensions and council expenses[edit]

Hanafin has said she does not take expenses from Dún Laoghaire Rathdown County Council, instead continues to draw her various state pensions accruing from her time as a teacher, TD and Minister. In July 2015, a RTE investigates report estimated the state had paid her €520,775 in pension and lump sum payments since 2011. This figure excludes any pension associated with her time as a teacher.[19][20][21]

2016 general election campaign[edit]

In April 2014, Hanafin indicated she intended to seek the Fianna Fáil nomination in Dún Laoghaire for the next general election.[22] Her fellow councillors Cormac Devlin and Kate Feeney also expressed an interest in seeking the nomination. The contest attracted widespread media attention being dubbed the "Battle of Blackrock II".[23][24]

In early September 2015, there was widespread speculation the Fianna Fáil National Constituencies Committee would attempt to exclude Cormac Devlin from the Dún Laoghaire candidate selection convention on the basis of his gender.[25][26][27] Following the threat of legal action from Devlin, the party backed down.[28][29]

Hanafin lost the Dún Laoghaire Fianna Fáil selection convention on 28 September 2015 coming second to Cormac Devlin.[30][31][32]

Two days after the selection convention, on 30 September 2015, the National Constituencies Committee of Fianna Fáil, chaired by Michael Moynihan TD, recommended Hanafin be added to the general election ticket in Dún Laoghaire.[33]

In October 2015 it emerged, that in 2009, Hanafin then Minister for Tourism supported potential legislation to introduce a €500 water charge and metering system in July 2010, five months before the bailout.[34]


  1. ^ "Ms. Mary Hanafin". Oireachtas Members Database. Retrieved 18 September 2009. 
  2. ^ "Mary Hanafin". Retrieved 18 September 2009. 
  3. ^ McDonagh, Patricia (17 December 2007). "New system widens net for potential medical students". Irish Independent. 
  4. ^ "Minister Considers 3 million euro grant to top fees school". Irish Independent. 19 April 2005. Retrieved 27 February 2011. 
  5. ^ "Hanafin attacked as fee-paying school gets €3m". Irish Independent. 21 April 2005. Retrieved 27 February 2011. 
  6. ^ "Hanafin stands over visa help for Nepal teen". Irish Independent. 11 February 2008. Retrieved 11 November 2015. 
  7. ^ "Boys were 'damaged' by sex trysts with poet". Irish Independent. 10 February 2008. Retrieved 11 November 2015. 
  8. ^ Sheahan, Fionnan (18 February 2008). "Autistic boy's mother in persecution claim". Irish Independent. 
  9. ^ "Hanafin backs her man - but ditches Devlin on party ticket". Evening Herald. 26 May 2009. 
  10. ^ "Hanafin named FF man to board on last day". Irish Examiner. 18 March 2011. 
  11. ^ "Election date set for 11 March". RTÉ News. 20 January 2011. Retrieved 21 January 2011. 
  12. ^ "Dun Laoghaire: Hanafin loses out to Boyd Barrett". Irish Independent. 28 February 2011. 
  13. ^ "Hanafin appointed as new FF vice-president". RTÉ News. 14 April 2011. 
  14. ^ "Mary Hanafin’s return to public life… on reality show ‘G-Team’". 12 January 2012. 
  15. ^ "Hanafin family seek jackpot in UK oil venture". 1 June 2008. 
  16. ^ "Former Fianna Fáil minister Mary Hanafin is part-owner of the business". 25 September 2013. 
  17. ^ "FF TDs furious with Micheal Martin over Mary Hanafin election debacle". 5 May 2014. 
  18. ^ "Hanafin to defy Martin and stand in local elections for Fianna Fail". 6 May 2014. 
  19. ^ "Former ministers to get pension boost, but one thinks the country "isn’t ready" yet". 5 July 2015. 
  20. ^ "€65 million in pension payments to former politicians". 23 March 2010. 
  21. ^ "Hanafin to cling to her '€400,000' pension pot". 23 March 2010. 
  22. ^ "Hanafin to take on FF young guns as she eyes Dail return". 22 April 2014. 
  23. ^ "Battle of Blackrock II". The Irish Irish Independent. Retrieved 18 October 2015. 
  24. ^ "'I lost four stone to run in general election race'". The Irish Irish Independent. Retrieved 10 October 2015. 
  25. ^ "Fianna Fáil opts to stick with party gender directive". The Irish Times. Retrieved 18 October 2015. 
  26. ^ "'We have a sound legal basis for what we have to do' - Fianna Fail on 'gendermandering' at selection conventions". The Irish Independent. Retrieved 18 October 2015. 
  27. ^ "'Our gender diktat is legally sound', claims Fianna Fail". The Irish Independent. Retrieved 10 October 2015. 
  28. ^ "Legal threat by FF councillor over female candidate directive". The Irish Times. Retrieved 18 October 2015. 
  29. ^ "Cormac fights for his slice of the Dún Laoghaire pie". The Irish Independent. Retrieved 18 October 2015. 
  30. ^ "Bitter Fianna Fail selection convention: Devlin beats Hanafin 68-64". Irish Independent. Retrieved 18 October 2015. 
  31. ^ "Cormac Devlin gets Fianna Fail nod over Mary Hanafin". The Herald. Retrieved 18 October 2015. 
  32. ^ "Hanafin loses out in Dún Laoghaire selection to Devlin". RTE News. Retrieved 18 October 2015. 
  33. ^ "‘A complete joke’: People aren’t happy that Mary Hanafin has been added in Dún Laoghaire". 30 September 2015. 
  34. ^ "FF plan for €500 water charges in 2010". 18 October 2015. 

External links[edit]

Preceded by
Niamh Bhreathnach
(Labour Party)
Fianna Fáil Teachta Dála for Dún Laoghaire
Succeeded by
Richard Boyd Barrett
(People Before Profit Alliance)
Political offices
Preceded by
Frank Fahey
Minister of State for Children
Succeeded by
Brian Lenihan
Preceded by
Séamus Brennan
Government Chief Whip
Succeeded by
Tom Kitt
Minister of State at the Department of Defence
Preceded by
Noel Dempsey
Minister for Education and Science
Succeeded by
Batt O'Keeffe
Preceded by
Martin Cullen
Minister for Social and Family Affairs
Succeeded by
Éamon Ó Cuív
as Minister for Social Protection
Preceded by
Martin Cullen
as Minister for Arts, Sport and Tourism
Minister for Tourism, Culture and Sport
Succeeded by
Jimmy Deenihan
as Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht
Succeeded by
Leo Varadkar
as Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport
Preceded by
Batt O'Keeffe
Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Innovation
Succeeded by
Richard Bruton
as Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation
Party political offices
Preceded by
Mary Coughlan
Deputy Leader of Fianna Fáil
Succeeded by
Brian Lenihan, Jnr
Preceded by
Vice President of Fianna Fáil
Succeeded by