Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
Eileen Desmond was born in Kinsale, County Cork, and educated locally at the Convent of Mercy in Kinsale. Before entering politics she worked as a civil servant with the Department of Posts & Telegraphs. Desmond was first elected to Dáil Éireann in a by-election in 1965, caused by the death of her husband, Dan Desmond , who had been a TD since 1948. Her by-election victory caused Taoiseach Sean Lemass to disolve the 17th Dáil and call a general election. She was re-elected for the second time in a year, but lost her seat in the 1969 General Election. However, Desmond was elected to Seanad Éireann, where she served until her re-election to the Dáil in 1973.
Desmond was a hard-working politician. She was elected to the European Parliament in 1979 for the Munster constituency. However, her time in Europe was short-lived and she returned to domestic politics. In 1981 a Fine Gael-Labour coalition came to power and Desmond was appointed Minister for Health & Social Welfare. Her Cabinet appointment was historic, in that she was the first woman to hold a senior portfolio since the foundation of the state in 1922.
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