Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
Mary Patricia McAleese (born 27 June, 1951) is the eighth, and current, President of Ireland. She was first elected president in 1997 and was re-elected, without contest, in 2004. Born in Belfast in Northern Ireland, prior to becoming president she was a barrister, journalist and academic.
McAleese was born Mary Patricia Leneghan on 27th June, 1951 in Belfast where she grew up during the Troubles. She was educated at St. Dominic's High School , Queen's University, Belfast (from which she graduated in 1973), and Trinity College in Dublin. She was called to the Northern Ireland Bar in 1974 and is today also a member of the Bar in the Republic of Ireland. In 1975 she was appointed Reid Professor of Criminal Law, Criminology and Penology in Trinity College, succeeding Mary Robinson (a succession that would repeat itself twenty years later, when McAleese assumed the presidency).
During the same decade she acted as legal advisor to, and a founding member of, the Campaign for Homosexual Law Reform, but she left this position in 1979 to join RTÉ (the national television service) as a journalist and presenter, during one period as a reporter and presenter for the Today Tonight programme. In 1976 she married her husband Martin McAleese. In 1981 she returned to the Reid Professorship, but continued to work part-time for RTÉ for a further four years. In 1987 she returned to Queen's University to become Director of the Institute of Professional Legal Studies. In the same year she stood, unsuccessfully, as a Fianna Fáil candidate in the general election.
McAleese was a member of the Catholic Church Episcopal Delegation to the New Ireland Forum in 1984 and a member of the Catholic Church delegation to the North Commission on Contentious Parades in 1996. She was also a delegate to the 1995 White House Conference on Trade and Investment in Ireland and to the subsequent Pittsburgh Conference in 1996. In 1994, she became the Pro-Vice Chancellor of the Queen's University, Belfast, the first woman to hold the position. Prior to becoming president in 1997 McAleese had also held the following positions:
- Director of Channel 4 Television.
- Director, Northern Ireland Electricity.
- Director, Royal Group of Hospitals Trust .
- Founder member of the Irish Commission for Prisoners Overseas .
In 1997 McAleese defeated former taoiseach (prime minister) Albert Reynolds in an internal, party election held to determine the Fianna Fáil nomination for the Irish presidency. Her opponents in the 1997 presidential election were Mary Banotti of Fine Gael, Adi Roche (the Labour candidate) and two independents: Dana Rosemary Scallon and Derek Nally . On 11th November, 1997, she was inaugurated as the eighth President of Ireland, the first time in history that a woman had succeeded another woman as an elected head of state anywhere in the world.
McAleese's initial seven year term of office ended in November 2004, but she announced on 14th September of that year that she would be standing for a second term in the 2004 presidential election. Following the failure of any other candidate to secure the necessary support for a nomination, the incumbent president stood unopposed and was declared elected on 1st October. She was officially re-inaugurated at the commencement of her second seven year term on 11th November. McAleese's very high job approval ratings were widely seen as the reason for her re-election, with no opposition party willing to bear the cost (financial or political) of competing in an election that would prove very difficult to win1.
McAleese has said that the theme of her presidency is "building bridges". The first individual born in Northern Ireland to become President of Ireland, and a nationalist, as president McAleese is a regular visitor to Northern Ireland, where she has been warmly welcomed by both communities. She is also an admirer of Queen Elizabeth II, whom she came to know when she was Pro-Vice Chancellor of Queens. It is said to be one of her major personal ambitions to host the first ever visit to the Republic of Ireland of a British head of state.
On 27th January, 2005, following her attendance at the ceremony commemorating the sixtieth anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz concentration camp, she caused controversy by making reference to Protestant children in Northern Ireland being brought up to hate Catholics just as the Nazis hated Jews. These remarks caused outrage among Unionists. McAleese later apologised, conceding that, because she had criticised only sectarianism found in one side of the community, her words had been unbalanced.
Council of State
|1.||1999 meeting||Address to the Oireachtas||The new millennium||Address given|
|2.||2000 meeting||Referral of bill to the Supreme Court||(a) Planning and Development Bill, 1999 |
(b) Illegal Immigrants (Trafficking) Bill, 1999
|(a) Bill referred|
(b) Bill referred
|3.||2002 meeting||Referral of bill to the Supreme Court||Housing (Miscellaneous Provisions) (No. 2) Bill, 2001||Bill not referred|
|4.||2004 meeting||Referral of bill to the Supreme Court||Health (Amendment) (No. 2) Bill, 2004||Bill referred|
- Gordon Brett
- Brian Crowley, MEP
- Ruth Curtis
- Christina Carney Flynn
- Sr. Stanislaus Kennedy
- Martin Naughton
- Noel Stewart
- Colonel Harvey Bicker
- Anastasia Crickley
- Mary Davis
- Senator Martin Mansergh
- Enda Marren
- Prof. Denis Moloney
- Daráine Mulvihill
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