Mervyn Taylor

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Mervyn Taylor
Minister for Equality and Law Reform
In office
15 December 1994 – 26 June 1997
Taoiseach John Bruton
Preceded by Máire Geoghegan-Quinn
Succeeded by Office abolished
Minister for Equality and Law Reform
In office
21 January 1993 – 17 November 1994
Taoiseach Albert Reynolds
Preceded by New office
Succeeded by Máire Geoghegan-Quinn
Minister for Labour
In office
12 January 1993 – 21 January 1993
Taoiseach Albert Reynolds
Preceded by Brian Cowen
Succeeded by Office abolished
Teachta Dála
In office
June 1981 – June 1997
Constituency Dublin South-West
Personal details
Born (1931-12-28) 28 December 1931 (age 85)
Dublin, Ireland
Nationality Irish
Political party Labour Party
Spouse(s) Marilyn Taylor (m. 1962)
Children 3
Education Wesley College
Alma mater Trinity College, Dublin

Mervyn Taylor (born 28 December 1931) is a former Irish Labour Party politician who served as Minister for Equality and Law Reform from 1994 to 1997, Minister for Equality and Law Reform from 1993 to 1994 and Minister for Labour in January 1993. He served as a Teachta Dála (TD) for the Dublin South-West constituency from 1981 to 1997.[1]

Early life[edit]

He was born to a Jewish family in Dublin. He was educated at Zion School, Wesley College and at Trinity College, Dublin where he qualified as a solicitor.

Legal practice[edit]

He worked for Herman Good Solicitors, alongside Herman Good and future district judge Hubert Wine. Good's involvement in the Labour Party was instrumental in Taylor getting involved in politics.[2] Taylor later established his own firm of Taylor and Buchalter Solicitors with the late Don Buchalter, and practised as a solicitor for over 50 years before retiring from active practice in his 70s. He continued as a consultant to the firm of Taylor and Buchalter Solicitors for most of his 70s.


Taylor was elected to Dublin County Council in the 1970s, and to Dáil Éireann as a Labour Party Teachta Dála (TD) for Dublin South-West at the 1981 general election, on his third attempt.[3] He then held the seat at every election until his retirement from politics in 1997.

He was Chairman of the Labour Party from 1987 to 1991,[4] and Labour chief whip, from 1981 to 1988. He was assistant government chief whip from 1981 to 1982, and again from 1982 to 1987. In 1993 he was appointed as Minister for Labour for a brief period, and then served as Minister for Equality and Law Reform during the two governments of 1993–94 and 1994–97.


In 1995 Taylor was in charge of the government proposal to legislate to remove the prohibition of divorce from the constitution; he steered the relevant bills through Dáil Éireann and Seanad Éireann, and won the subsequent referendum by the narrow margin of 0.5 per cent. In the course of the campaign he survived criticism of the measure directed at his Jewish faith, as well as a Supreme Court ruling that public monies could not properly be spent in promoting the government's opinion on a referendum proposal.

His other major project was the introduction of two wide-ranging anti-discrimination measures, the Employment Equality Bill and the Equal Status Bill. These were struck down by the Supreme Court but revised versions were approved by the Government in the final months of Taylor's term of office, and were ultimately published and enacted during the following Dáil term.

The legislation introduced by Taylor and enacted during his term of office is as follows:

  • Interpretation (Amendment) Act 1993 - providing for gender inclusive language in Acts of the Oireachtas
  • Jurisdiction of Courts and Enforcement of Judgments Act 1993 - providing for international enforcement of civil judgments
  • Maintenance Act 1994 - EC enforcement of mainteance orders
  • Maternity Protection Act 1994 - implemented EC law on maternity leave
  • Stillbirths Registration Act 1994 - provided for registration of stillborn children for the first time in Irish law
  • Adoptive Leave Act 1995 - extended maternity leave-type rights to adoptive parents
  • Civil Legal Aid Act 1995 - put civil legal aid scheme on statutory basis
  • Family Law Act 1995 - reformed law relating to judicial separation
  • Occupiers Liability Act 1995 - provided for reduced liability to trespassers and recreational users
  • Fifteenth Amendment of the Constitution Act 1995 - provided for divorce in the Constitution
  • Civil Liability (Amendment) Act 1996 - provided for increased damages for fatal injuries cases
  • Domestic Violence Act 1996 - extended remedies in domestic violence cases
  • Family Law (Divorce) Act 1996 - introduced divorce on a statutory basis
  • Powers of Attorney Act 1996 - provided for enduring powers of attorney
  • Registration of Births Act 1996 - provided for gender neutral birth certificates
  • Family Law (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1997 - miscellaneous amendments

Legislation originally introduced by Taylor but enacted during the following Dail is as follows:

  • Children Act 1997 - extending family law entitlements of natural fathers and grandparents and other amendments
  • Employment Equality Act 1998
  • Equal Status Act 2000

Legislation introduced by Taylor, struck down by the Supreme Court and not re-introduced is as follows:

  • Matrimonial Home Bill 1993[5]


Taylor is married to Marilyn Taylor, who is the author of numerous books for young people. They have two sons, a daughter, and eight grandchildren.


Political offices
Preceded by
Brian Cowen
Minister for Labour
Succeeded by
Office abolished
Department subsumed into Department of Enterprise and Employment
New office Minister for Equality and Law Reform
Succeeded by
Máire Geoghegan-Quinn
Preceded by
Máire Geoghegan-Quinn
Minister for Equality and Law Reform
Succeeded by
Office abolished
Department merged with Department of Justice
Party political offices
Preceded by
Michael D. Higgins
Chairperson of the Labour Party
Succeeded by
Niamh Bhreathnach