Sheelagh Murnaghan

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Sheelagh Murnaghan

Member of the
Northern Ireland House of Commons
In office
ConstituencyQueen's University of Belfast
Personal details
Born(1924-05-26)26 May 1924
Dublin, Ireland
Died14 September 1993(1993-09-14) (aged 69)
Belfast, Northern Ireland
Political partyUlster Liberal Party
Alma materQueen's University Belfast

Sheelagh Mary Murnaghan (26 May 1924 — 14 September 1993) was an Ulster Liberal Party Member of Parliament (MP) in the House of Commons of Northern Ireland at Stormont.

Born into a Roman Catholic family in Dublin, the granddaughter of George Murnaghan, a Nationalist MP, she grew up in Omagh before studying law at Queen's University, Belfast, graduating in 1947. Whilst at Queen's she became the first female president of the Literary and Scientific Society (the Literific), the university debating society. She qualified as a barrister and played for the Irish national women's hockey team.

Murnaghan joined the Ulster Liberal Association in 1959, and unsuccessfully contested South Belfast in the British general election that year. On 24 November 1961, she won a by-election for Queens University Belfast[1][2] and became the only Liberal member ever to sit in the Northern Ireland House of Commons.

While an MP, Murnaghan campaigned to abolish the death penalty and for a bill of human rights. When her seat was abolished, she failed to win North Down at the 1969 Northern Ireland general election, and was also unsuccessful in Belfast South at the 1973 Northern Ireland Assembly election. During the 1970s, she sat on various quangos, including the Industrial Relations Tribunal and the Equal Opportunities Commission. She continued to practice at the Bar, specialising in harassment cases.

She died in 1993, aged 69, from undisclosed causes.


  1. ^ "News in Brief: University seat". The Times. London. 1 November 1961. p. 5. Retrieved 26 January 2018 – via Times digital archive.
  2. ^ "News in Brief: Woman Liberal wins N. Ireland seat". The Times. London. 25 November 1961. p. 5. Retrieved 26 January 2018 – via Times digital archive.

External links[edit]


Parliament of Northern Ireland
Preceded by
Samuel Irwin
Charles Stewart
Frederick Lloyd-Dodd
Elizabeth Maconachie
Member of Parliament for Queen's University of Belfast
With: Frederick Lloyd-Dodd to 1962
Charles Stewart to 1966
Elizabeth Maconachie to 1969
Ian McClure from 1962
Robert Porter from 1966
Constituency abolished