Rosemary Butler (politician)

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Dame Rosemary Butler
Rosemary Butler - National Assembly for Wales.jpg
Presiding Officer of the National Assembly for Wales
Assumed office
11 May 2011
Deputy David Melding
Preceded by Dafydd Elis-Thomas
Deputy Presiding Officer
In office
9 May 2007 – 11 May 2011
Preceded by John Marek
Succeeded by David Melding
Minister for Education
In office
25 May 1999 – 18 October 2000
First Secretary Alun Michael
Preceded by New post
Succeeded by Jane Davidson
Member of the Welsh Assembly
for Newport West
Assumed office
6 May 1999
Preceded by New Assembly
Majority 4,220 (18.3%)
Personal details
Born Rosemary Janet Mair McGrath
(1943-01-21) 21 January 1943 (age 72)
Much Wenlock, Shropshire, England, UK
Political party Welsh Labour Party
Spouse(s) Derek Butler (1966–present); 2 children

Dame Rosemary Janet Mair Butler DBE AM (née McGrath; born 21 January 1943) is a British politician and Labour Member of the National Assembly for Wales for Newport West since 1999. Serving briefly as Assembly Secretary for Education in the first two years of the Assembly, she was elected Deputy Presiding Officer of the Assembly in May 2007. She is currently Presiding Officer of the Assembly, following her election in May 2011.


Rosemary McGrath was born in Much Wenlock, Shropshire. Her family moved to the Rhymney Valley soon after. As a teenager she moved to Newport with her parents (Godfrey and Gwen McGrath) and brother John; there she attended St Julian's High School. In the early 1960s she met her husband Derek Butler, whom she married in 1966. He was a lecturer in art and design at Newport Art college, which was at the time based in Clarence Place. They have two daughters, Kate (born 1968) and Alice (born 1970).

Local politics[edit]

In 1971 Butler joined the Labour Party. She was elected to Newport Borough Council from Caerleon ward in 1973, and played an important part in Labour administrations on the council as Deputy Leader and Mayor of Newport in 1989–90. She was Chair of the Leisure Services Committee for 12 years.

National Assembly[edit]

At the first Assembly election in 1999, Butler was selected as Labour candidate for Newport West which she won. She was appointed Assembly Secretary for Education: Minister for Children and Young People (up to 16) by Alun Michael but held office only for a year, leaving in October 2000 when the new First Minister Rhodri Morgan formed a coalition government. She was Chair of the Assembly's Culture, Welsh Language and Sport Committee and served on the Panel of Chairs. She led the British Council activities in the Assembly and also represents the Assembly on the European Committee of the Regions (CoR) where she is a member of the Bureau (executive) of the Committee.[citation needed]

Presiding Officer and Deputy Presiding Officer[edit]

Rosemary Butler at the Senedd

On 9 May 2007, Butler was picked as the Labour group's nominee for Deputy Presiding Officer of the Assembly, a position vacant by the defeat of the previous holder and which had to be held by a member from a different party to the Presiding Officer. Her election by the whole of the Assembly was not opposed. Butler was appointed the second Presiding Officer of the Assembly on 11 May 2011, following Dafydd Elis-Thomas, PC, AM.[citation needed]

Butler was appointed Dame Commander of the Order of the British Empire (DBE) in the 2014 New Year Honours for political and public services, particularly to women.[1]

Personal interests[edit]

  • Honorary Fellow of the University of Wales, Newport
  • Co-founder and Chair of the Newport International Competition for Young Pianists
  • An Honorary Citizen of Newport's twin town Kutaisi (Republic of Georgia), and founding member of the Newport-Kutaisi Twinning Association
  • President of the Friends of Newport Transporter Bridge
  • President of the Wales Home Safety Council
  • President of Newport Harriers Athletic Club
  • Honorary Life Member of Newport Sports Council
  • Life Member of Newport Cricket Club
  • Founder member of the Friends of Tredegar House
  • Ambassador for Girl Guiding
  • Founder member of Newport Women's Aid
  • Member of Women's International League of Peace and Freedom
  • Patron of Caerleon Arts Festival
  • Chairwoman, Newport Women's Forum


  1. ^ 2014 Honours List recipients; accessed 17 March 2014.


External links[edit]

Media related to Rosemary Butler at Wikimedia Commons

Offices held[edit]

National Assembly for Wales
Preceded by
(new post)
Assembly Member for Newport West
Preceded by
Dafydd Elis-Thomas
Presiding Officer
Preceded by
John Marek
Deputy Presiding Officer
Succeeded by
David Melding
Political offices
Preceded by
(new post)
Minister for Education
Succeeded by
Jane Davidson
Preceded by
Member of the EU Committee of the Regions
Succeeded by
Christine Chapman