Talk:Mary Robinson

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Anyone know where there is a public domain photo (preferably head shot) of Mary Robinson? The fair use image that was here for ages has been deleted by the photo-gestapo and as it did not apparently conform! Snappy56 18:07, 7 February 2007 (UTC)


Going by this article, she's clearly a strong candidate for prehumous sainthood. There's way too much adulation in here for something that aspires to be NPOV; I could edit out the fawning praise myself ("You were magnificent", geez), but it would be better to have someone more knowledgeable give this more balance. Stan 05:43 May 6, 2003 (UTC)

I am amazed at how baised this article is. "a remarkably good president"!?! There's not even the pretense of neutrality. I shall attempt to work on it.

Acegikmo1 19:12, 17 Sep 2004 (UTC)


As a first time Wikipedia user - and an Irishman - who just came across this article while browsing, I have to say that this is a remarkably well-researched, accurate and well-written article.

While the article is clearly very positive, it is perhaps impossible to understand and convey the seismic shift in Irish life which she helped to bring about, unless you lived in Ireland before, during and after the Robinson Presidency.

Her tenure as UN High Commissioner for Human Rights also won her many plaudits, although she had her critics, particularly in the US, whose Government found her to be too outspoken on issues such as the obligation to uphold human rights at all times, even during a "war on terror".

Although it is unfair to compare her post with the post of President of the US or even with the position of Taoiseach/Prime Minister of Ireland (who holds the real power), you should consider when you last saw a politician achieve approval ratings of 93% in a democratic country with a free press! This is particularly impressive given her strongly held and expressed views on controversial issues in Ireland at that time, such as contraception, gay rights, divorce etc. Even those who disagreed with her liberal views recognised her integrity and deeply held views on injustice and inequality of any kind.

To Acegikmo1: as a non-Irish person I can say that Mary Robinson was an extraordinary president -truly "A President for All of Us." Nothing in the article can be gainsayed. She gave the country a new cohesivenss and confidence just when it needed it and struck just the right note so many times. Here was a person who was articulate, savvy, charismatic in the best sense of the word, occupying a elected office without real power from which she could derive no future benefit. What ever power and influence the position has she exercised ethically and for the benefit of the country. She was not a party hack or a placeman. Her presidency was part of the foundation that has made Ireland into one of the most dynamic countries in this early part of the 21st Century. Albatross2147 14:23, 12 Apr 2005 (UTC)

I agree. Acegikmo1 probably doesn't understand the impact of Robinson on the office of president. She took an office that was low-key, under-utilised and frankly dull (no disrespect to Paddy Hillery, whom I have immense respect for) and completely reimagined it. The office changed fundamentally in its structure, role, public respect and impact on Irish life. It is hard to explain fully just how dramatically she reshaped the office. But one can get some idea by some statistics:

  • 93% support rating, unheard of ever in Irish polling (where a 70% is regarded as a miracle and very very rarely achieved by any Irish politician.)
  • opinion polls that showed that, had she run again, she would have been the 'first choice' for 70% of Fianna Fáil supporters - her opponents in 1990, whereas her nearest Fianna Fáil potential challenger within Fianna Fáil, a former party leader and prime minister, had 12% support;
  • in polls, had she run in 1997, she would have been the perferred choice of Fianna Fáil supporters, Fine Gael supporters, Labour supporters, PD supporters (where she nearly had 100%, and they too were opponents in 1990), Green supporters, even Sinn Féin supporters.
  • In polls she was described unambiguously as "the best ever president" by every category; political, social, economic, religious, young, old, rich, poor, an astonishing achievement.
  • Historians, both traditional and revisionist, have universally acclaimed her as the best ever president, "by a mile" in the words of one.
  • When a Catholic priest attacked for for supposedly breaking Vatican protocol in how she was dressed when she met the pope (she hadn't. He obviously hadn't realised that dress codes in the Vatican had changed under Pope John Paul and the pope was perfectly happy with how she dressed. But then her office had consulted the Vatican first) he was condemned by his bishop, his parish priest, his parishioners and even his family, including an uncle of his who was a priest, publicly.
  • When one columnist in the Irish Times attacked her he was verbally abused in the street.
  • When she took on the office, 40% wanted the office abolished. When she left 99.8% wanted to keep it.
  • When she ran in 1990, her biggest detractors was the controversial journalist Vincent Browne who dismissed her plans as unworkable, impossible and nonsensical. By 1997 Browne, one of Ireland's most notoriously controversial journalists, hero-worshipped her, re-echoing the words he had used early on in the presidency during her visit to Rwanda, saying "You were magnificent". (Browne, in 40 years of journalism, has never ever praised anyone in public life so fulsomely. Indeed, in a move that astonished - and amused - all of Ireland, he actually apologised, saying about his 1990 analysis, "I was wrong". That's like a pope saying 'I'm not infallible. I'm gay. And by the way, lets have women priests!')
  • An office where at elections parties struggled to find candidates for, and where three candidate races had only happened twice and were looked on with astonishment, suddenly had five nominated candidates seeking to replace her. A former prime minister could not even get a nomination to become his party's candidate, as his party, Fianna Fáil, sought to find its own 'Mary Robinson' style candidate. (It succeeded and she won. BTW her highest opinion poll rating was an amazing 86%. But she had a 'guaranteed' 40+ (Fianna Fáil voters) in there. Robinson had a guaranteed 13% (Labour voters) and had to win all the rest over.)

I was in the Áras for her resignation and the main party leaders (opponents in 1990) were practically scrambling to be photographed beside her. It was astonishing and very very funny. Bertie Ahern was beaming like a proud parent. As was John Bruton. (Both had been opponents in 1990, but by 1997 called her "incredible" and "remarkable" in the office.) Pat Rabbitte was even more smug than normal. (Labour leader Dick Spring stayed away because he had had a notorious falling out with her. According to tracking polls, his support dropped by 1/3 overnight, when he, previously the most popular politician in Ireland, was revealed to have had a major row with her.) So if the article praises her strongly it is because that is how she is judged, by the media, by politicians, by historians and commentators, but most of all by the Irish people. FearÉIREANN 23:12, 13 Apr 2005 (UTC)


This is an article on Mary Robinson. I intend to delete the great slabs of Lenihan material, replacing it with a concise statement of how his difficulties affected Robinson's campaign. Pete 21:42, 15 Jun 2005 (UTC)


Is the following statement inaccurate? : "famously, she visited Rwanda" . I recall it being Somalia that she visited and not Rwanda. Am I right?

Former President[edit]

Clearly she is no longer President of Ireland. An alternative will have to be found. The US presidents are shown as xth President. Perhaps that form could be used. Or if the term of office is included, "President of Ireland 19xx-19xx", then that too would indicate that a former president is no longer serving.

Having the information box headed "Mary Robinson / President of ireland" gives a misleading impression that she is the President of Ireland. --Footsoldier 22:42, 30 August 2005 (UTC)

That is because that is her constitutional title - de valera wanted the North to slot as easily as possible into the United Ireland he wanted to see emerging - it would take a constitutional referendum to change it.

Problems with numbering the Presidents of Ireland.[edit]

There is a problem that arises in numbering the Presidents of Ireland, as the first President of Ireland, Douglas Hyde was President of Éire under King George VI, as opposed to President of the Republic of Ireland. Sean T. O'Kelly was the only President to have been both President of Éire & President of the Republic of Ireland. - (Aidan Work 02:05, 18 November 2005 (UTC))

There is no problem with the numbering. There is no such thing as President of Éire. Nor is there such a thing as President of the Republic of Ireland. There is one office, President of Ireland which was created in 1937 and has been held by eight people, hence the numbers.
The only change was that between 1937 and 1949, under the External Relations Act the external role of representation that usually defines who is the head of state was held by King George VI under the title King of Ireland. In possessing that role in a strict constitutional sense he was Irish head of state in that period, as he possessed the unique head of state powers. Under the Republic of Ireland Act, 1948, which came into force on 1 April 1949, that role was given to the President of Ireland and the post of King of Ireland by implication abolished.
Nor were the presidents between 1938 when Hyde entered office, and 1949 when the legal change occurred, "under George VI". His Majesty's role was exclusively external, His Excellency's role purely internal. No-one in Ireland after the Constitution (Amendment No. 27) Act, 1936 was given the Royal Assent by Governor-General Ua Buachalla in December 1936 was under the King. The King lost his internal role and had his Irish kingship exclusively reserved for external affairs. [[user_talk:Jtdirl]] 04:12, 18 November 2005 (UTC)

Pro-British Commonwealth sympathies.[edit]

Is it true that former President Robinson is known to hold pro-British Commonwealth sympathies? - (Aidan Work 02:05, 18 November 2005 (UTC))

I presume you mean Commonwealth of Nations (it has not been the British Commonwealth for decades). Mary, like her successor Mary McAleese is strongly supportive of a close working relationship between Ireland and the United Kingdom. Both women supported the idea of a visit by the Queen to Ireland. However neither could constitutionally comment on the issue of potential Irish re-entry into the Commonwealth. However Minister Éamon Ó Cuiv, the grandson of Éamon de Valera, is on longterm record as championing Irish re-entry into the Commonwealth. Neither Mary has commented on the issue. [[user_talk:Jtdirl]] 04:17, 18 November 2005 (UTC)

Jtdirl, yes that is what I mean. The Commonwealth is still often commonly known as the British Commonwealth, because it is the direct successor to the British Empire. About the use of the word 'nation', it is really an enthnilogical term that is the most misused word in the English language. A lot of people use the word 'nation' in reference to a country, when such usage is strictly incorrect. - (Aidan Work 01:35, 20 November 2005 (UTC))

Footnotes relevant?[edit]

The footnotes do not seem to be particularly relevant to this article. Should they not be removed and moved elsewhere? I suspect they might have been part of a template when making this article.

Footnotes, and Other Source Material sections[edit]

  • I disagree, the footnotes appear relevant; it is the preceeding section called Other source material which is vague and improperly substantiated. Many of the items mentioned are not cited explicitly and footnoted properly within the text so this other source material looks like it could have been invented, because it is uncited and unverifiable. Political briefing notes and even an alleged interview with Robinson are claimed. This does not meet Wikipedia criteria. These loose claims must be given credibility. (talk) 17:23, 1 August 2009 (UTC)

Green dress when visiting Pope[edit]

I havn't taken much interest in this article — I just came to it from "What links here" from Christian Brothers, as that's a disambiguation page. Concerning my edit, in addition to changing Christian Brothers to Congregation of Christian Brothers, I removed the claim that the special permission to study at Trinity was rarely granted to Catholics. As far as I know, I have relatives who got permission relatively easily, just like a formality.

I had problems with the following section, and I removed it:

She visited Irish nuns and priests abroad, Irish famine relief charities, attended international sports events, met the Pope (where she was condemned by a young right wing priest in The Irish Times for supposedly breaking Vatican dress codes on her visit; the Vatican insisted she hadn't, an analysis echoed by Ireland's Roman Catholic Bishops who disowned the controversial priest's comments).

I incorrectly mentioned Fr Phonsie Cullinane in my edit summary. Of course, as I realized after saving, it was Fr David O' Hanlon. (Fr. Cullinane criticized Bertie Ahern. I got them mixed up.)

First of all, I think it violates NPOV to call Fr. O' Hanlon right wing. It's a personal judgment. For those who believe that official Catholic teaching (abortion, euthanasia, contraception, divorce, women's ordination, etc.) is right wing, then Fr O' Hanlon undoubtedly is. But there is no indication that he believes anything that isn't official teaching – no indication that he thinks Protestants go to Hell, that Vatican II was heretical, that the Mass of Paul VI is invalid, etc. So he's simply a Catholic, pure and simple. If Catholic teaching is right wing (hardly something that Wikipedia should be judging), so is he. His age doesn't seem relevant. Also, condemned is a very strong word, collocating with "prison sentence" and "death penalty". Fr. O' Hanlon pointed out

  • that women are expected to wear dark when meeting the pope;
  • that Mrs Clinton, Diana Princess of Wales, Queen Elizabeth, Mrs Netanyahu, Mrs Reagan (all non-Catholics) all wore black or dark grey when meeting the pope;
  • that Mary Robinson showed respect for Muslims by taking off her shoes when visiting a mosque in Dublin;
  • that it should not have been too much for Catholics in Ireland (whom she was representing) to be able to expect that she would similarly show respect by following the Vatican dress code.

The article said "supposedly breaking Vatican dress codes", implying that she hadn't broken them. Now is it or is it not a fact that there is a dress code requiring that women wear dark, and that she wore green? If I'm mistaken on either of those beliefs, I'd be happy to be put right. It says the Vatican "insisted" she hadn't. Gosh, they're strong words, almost suggesting that someone very high up in the Vatican issued an official statement and then issued another one to reinforce the first. As for the Irish Bishops, my recollection is that several priests and Bishops John Kirby Willie Walsh wrote to the Irish Times, denouncing Fr O'Hanlon's views. I am unaware of any statement from the body of Bishops. In any case, those who criticized Fr O' Hanlon criticized him for criticizing the president and calling her "cheap"; they didn't "echo the Vatican's analysis — and I don't believe there was such an analysis — that she hadn't broken the dress code. They didn't say that he was mistaken in claiming that Mary Robinson violated Vatican norms; they simply thought it was rude of him to say so. Incidentally, Fr. O' Hanlon did get a lot of public support as well as criticism. I remember several Protestants said at the time that they were appalled at Mary Robinson's rudeness.

If that extract is re-inserted, it will have to be de-POVed. The "right-wing" bit will have to go, and unless someone can show either that there is no expectation that women should wear dark and cover their heads when meeting the pope, or that she really did wear black, and that Fr. O' Hanlon got mixed up about his colours, the implication that he was wrong in saying that she broke the dress code will also have to go. People may think that her choice to appear bareheaded, in a green dress, and a sprig of mimosa was a fine, brave, daring gesture, showing that she wouldn't conform to the sexist requirements of that fuddy duddy old pope, or that it was rude and cheap. But I can't see how they can deny that she did choose not to conform. If we can't simply present the facts without passing judgment either on her or on Fr. O' Hanlon, then we should leave out that bit. AnnH 16:06, 10 March 2006 (UTC)

Re the above: O'Hanlon is wrong. Prior to the 1980s it was mandatory for women to wear mantillas and apart from a couple of exceptions (the Queens of Belgium and Spain and the Grand Duchess of Luxembourg, who can wear white) they were required to wear black. All Vatican dress codes have long since been relaxed. When President de Valera visited Pope John he was required to wear white tie with decorations. When President Hillery visited John Paul II he simply had to wear a lounge suit. When Des Connell was made a cardinal Bertie Ahern wore the traditional white tie and tails to the ceremony and felt a right pillock when he found that he was the only one there in formal dress, other than the gentlemen wheeling John Paul about on his little contraption. (Oh bring back the sede gestatoria, I say!) Bertie went ballistic and swore (apparently literally, using a string of f-words) when he got back to Dublin that that would be the last time he'd wear white dress to the Vatican. He looked ridiculous as the only one of the state leaders there in white dress, surrounded by everyone else in blue and black lounge suits.

The women's rules were relaxed in the 1980s. All that is required is that people dress respectfully. They don't have to wear black and don't have to wear mantillas. Few women presidents do. They think it demeaning to have to cover their heads to meet a man (and right too. It is downright sexist, and was based on the idea women would only meet the pope when with their husbands, with their dress indicating their inferiority and their tempress role!!!). At this stage only royalty still wears the traditional black dress and mantilla. Even there too rules have changed. When she first meet a pope (John XXIII) Elizabeth II wore a dress down to the ground, the standard dress required at the time for a mere woman meeting the pope (lest flesh tempt the pope, according to the original reason for the dress code). For her last meeting with John Paul she wore a dress above the knees. (It apparently was meant to be below the knees but the dress designer goofed up the measurements.)

Robinson broke no rules whatsoever. She consulted with the Vatican before going and they Oked the planned outfit of dark green. Not alone were they not annoyed, they supplied pictures of her outfit to other women world leaders seeking advice on what to wear, with Robinson's outfit highlighted by the Vatican as what to wear.

Calling David right wing is an understatement. Even the rightwing bishop of Meath, Mick Smith, thinks O'Hanlon is so right wing he is liable to fall off the edge. O'Hanlon's ignorant attack on Robinson was disowned by the bishop, the priests of the Meath diocese and by his own family. His uncle, who is a priest, said he was ashamed of his nephew. David's parishioners in Kentstown were equally unimpressed, but then his extreme right ring views had already bitterly divided the parish. The section you removed, Anne, was 100% factually correct. She broke no dress code for the simple reason that it does not exist had has not for over 25 years. David is not a run of the mill priest but it seen by his bishop, his fellow priests and others at senior level within the church as not merely right wing but ultra-right wing. One of them I know, someone himself who would be right wing, dismissed David as a "complete nutter". It is rumoured in the Meath diocese that his bishop has told him in no uncertain terms to shut up, after making some outrageous attacks on protestants, on President McAleese (who wore a mixture of black and white to meet the Pope, not that he noticed. She revealed after his death that he was so mentally out of it at that stage that he hardly knew who she was. When she praised the Irish College that he as a bishop had stayed in, he could not remember where or what it was. When told it was beside his cathedral, the John Lateran, incredibly the Pope didn't know where or what that was either. Not as bad though as when he met the Archbishop of Canterbury and couldn't remember his encyclicals, and at the end of audience asked an aide "remind me. Who was that?") and on others.

As the section is perfectly accurate and measured in its tone I am re-inserting it. FearÉIREANNIreland-Capitals.PNG\(caint) 01:43, 17 May 2006 (UTC)

Binchy and divorce[edit]

I said in an edit summary that I didn't think Professor Binchy was an anti-divorce activist. I was wrong, but I see there's no need to revert myself as Jtdirl has already reverted it. Sorry for the mistake. AnnH 23:14, 26 April 2006 (UTC)

No problem. I know the guy. He was one of the leaders of the Anti-divorce campaigns in the two referenda. He also wrote one of the main anti-divorce books in Ireland, Is Divorce the Answer?. FearÉIREANNIreland-Capitals.PNG\(caint) 23:18, 26 April 2006 (UTC)


Can anyone find some citations of Robinson's middle name being given as Térèse rather than Terese? Some examples of 'Terese': [1], [2]. --Kwekubo 00:40, 17 May 2006 (UTC)


I have no doubt as to her extraordinary popularity, but does anyone have a source for the 93% poll? The only links I can find are Wiki mirrors or pages obviously citing Wiki. I doubt that 93% of a polled population can agree what day it is.... Cory.willis 08:51, 30 May 2006 (UTC)

McDowell/Flynn quote[edit]

"with enemies like Padraig Flynn, who needs friends?"

This used to say "McDowell". Anybody have a source to say which it is? Ian Cheese 22:04, 5 July 2006 (UTC)

Actually it should be McDowell. It is in Mary's official biography. I'll change it back. FearÉIREANNIreland-Capitals.PNG\(caint) 22:26, 5 July 2006 (UTC)

Independent Candidate[edit]

For the record Mary Robinson was an independent or "Non Party" candidate in the 1990 Irish Presidential election having been nominated jointly by the Labour Party, the Workers' Party and a number of independent senators. She was quite clear during the election that she was not a Labour Party member, nor a member of any of the other groups. see [[3]]

--Coolavokig 19:54, 30 July 2006 (UTC)Coolavokig

Sabhal Mòr Lectures[edit]

I would like to see a mention here of Robinson's Sabhal Mòr Lecture, but I can't see where to put it. This was seen in Scotland as a particularly visionary lecture. Perhaps those of you working on this page can see how best to add it? --Doric Loon 21:01, 12 September 2006 (UTC)

Is she Dr Robinson?

I attended a lecture she gave in Dublin tonight and she was introduced, and thereafter described more than once, as Dr Robinson. Does this arise from the bad habit many have of calling the recipients of honorary doctorates Dr or is there another explanation for it. My recall is she finished her full time education in Harvard when she obtained a LL.M degree.

hi mary my name is katie i am in 6th class and doing a project on you.i was wondering what should i right about i mean what are your strongest memories and do you have any advice for me

election campaign - TV program[edit]

Under "ELection campaign" there's the sentence: "An episode of the current affairs television program program, featured Fianna Fáil members in Roscommon openly attacking Haughey's leadership and character." This doesn't seem to make sense, but has been in the article since June 28th! Perhaps someone who knows what was meant could tidy it up? PamD (talk) 11:50, 6 December 2007 (UTC)

Trinity College and Catholics[edit]

Why does it say though a catholic she decided to attend trinity college dublin?

Okay Trinity was originally a Protestant University but it can hardly have been unusual for a Catholic to go there in the 1960s. Also it gives an impression of sectarianism that truthfully I can't see existing in the Republic. Alright I'm younger. But I still feel it leads people to believe that the Republic of Ireland, like Northern Ireland, has long been a segregated and sectarian society, when it just hasn't, if only because the number of Protestants wasn't big enough to support a University the size of Trinity by the early 1960s.

It would have been unusual for a Catholic to attend Trinity in the 60s because up until 1976 (I think) the Catholic Church barred its members from attending. TheGeniusPrince 00:06, 12 April 2009 (UTC) —Preceding unsigned comment added by TheGeniusPrince (talkcontribs)

Somebody please tell me whether it would be right to change it? —Preceding unsigned comment added by Jbreenw (talkcontribs) 14:14, 30 June 2008 (UTC)

The Elders?[edit]

It isn't clear what The Elders has to do with Robinson; is she a member? (talk) 18:15, 11 May 2009 (UTC)

  • I agree, it is unclear. The presence of the section The Elders appears to imply Robinson is a member, but this is not actually explicitly stated. (talk) 17:14, 1 August 2009 (UTC)

Mary Robinson is a member of The Elders. I know this myself as a matter of fact. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 23:00, 25 February 2010 (UTC)

Current Photo[edit]

The description in the photos could include additional (brief) details.  ; "... shown here recieving the Presential Medal of Freedom for her efforts to improve the status of human rights" or something similar. Wolfpeaceful (talk) 18:09, 14 August 2009 (UTC)

Could someone crop it and just an image of Mary Robinson on her own? That would be useful for other pages. Snappy (talk) 12:06, 15 August 2009 (UTC)

Photo of the Civic Offices[edit]

Dublin City Council Civic Offices

I'm not sure what "One of the Civic Offices" means. Is it "one" because the picture does not show the whole building or "one" because there is another building which I don't know? If you know what to write about it, you could perhaps use the following picture which shows the whole building.

--YvonneM (talk) 19:42, 2 June 2011 (UTC)


Is there any evidence per this edit that former Presidents of Ireland continue to be formally addressed as they were while in office eg Your Excellency, A Uachtaráin, A Shoilse? Personally it seems 'wrong' and I think should be removed from the infobox. RashersTierney (talk) 06:03, 30 September 2012 (UTC)

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