Feargal Quinn

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Feargal Quinn
In office
12 February 1993 – 27 April 2016
Constituency National University of Ireland
Personal details
Born (1936-11-27) 27 November 1936 (age 82)
Dublin, Ireland
Nationality Irish
Political party Independent
Spouse(s) Denise Quinn
Children 5
Education Newbridge College
Alma mater University College Dublin

Feargal Quinn (born 27 November 1936) is a former Irish businessman, politician and television personality. He founded the Superquinn supermarket chain and served as a Senator from the National University of Ireland constituency from 1993 to 2016.[1]

Early and personal life

Quinn was born in Dublin in 1936, and was educated in Newbridge College, and is a commerce graduate of University College Dublin. He is married to Denise Quinn, daughter of Ned and Grace Prendergast. They have five children and 19 grandchildren. He is a first cousin of Labour Party politician Ruairi Quinn and of Lochlann Quinn, former chairman of Allied Irish Banks (AIB).

He is the author of Crowning the Customer (O'Brien Press, 1990), which has been translated into many languages as well as Mind Your Own Business (O'Brien Press, 2013). In 2016, he published his memoirs, entitled "Quinnessential Feargal" (O'Brien Press 2016).

Quinn is the recipient of five honorary doctorates from education institutions, a papal knighthood along with a fellowship and the French Ordre National du Mérite. He shared with Oprah Winfrey the 2006 "Listener of the Year" award of the International Listening Association.


Quinn built a career in business and later performed a range of public service roles.

He founded the national Superquinn supermarket chain, of which he remained non-executive president for some years after his family sold out their interest in August 2005. Superquinn was known for its dedication to customer service and having pioneered a number of innovations, including Ireland's first supermarket loyalty card in 1993, SuperClub. It also introduced self-scanning of goods by customers in a number of its outlets (Reward Card SuperScan). Superquinn became the first supermarket in the world to guarantee the absolute traceability of all its beef from pasture to plate, using TraceBack, a revolutionary system developed at Trinity College, Dublin by IdentiGEN.

Public sector work

He became the chairman of the Interim Board for Posts and served as chairman of its successor An Post (the Irish postal administration) until 1989 – he also served on several other public authorities and boards. From 1993 to 1998, he chaired the steering committee which oversaw the development of the Leaving Certificate Applied.

In 2006 he was appointed an Adjunct Professor in Marketing at National University of Ireland, Galway. He is currently chairman of Springboard Ireland.

Business groups

He is a former President of EuroCommerce, the Brussel-based organisation which represents the retail, wholesale and international trade sectors in Europe. Its membership includes over 100 commerce federations in 27 European countries, European and national associations representing specific branches of commerce and many companies. Also he served on the board of directors of CIES – the Food Business Forum based in Paris as well as the American-based Food Marketing Institute.

Television work

In 2009, he worked with independent shops and helped them to revamp, modernise and stave off stiff competition from multi-national retailers. It aired as RTÉ's six-part television series, Feargal Quinn's Retail Therapy. A second series aired in 2011 while a third series aired in 2012.

In 2011, he fronted RTÉ's Local Heroes campaign in Drogheda, County Louth which an assembled team of experts to kick-start the local economy. It aired as RTÉ 1's six-part television series, Local Heroes – A Town Fights Back.

Political career

Quinn was first elected as a senator in 1993 from the National University of Ireland constituency and was re-elected in 1997, 2002, 2007 and 2011.[2] He was a member of the Joint Oireachtas Committee on European Affairs, the Joint Committee on Finance and Public Service and was an Oireachtas member of the National Economic and Social Forum, along with the Joint Committee on Jobs and Innovation.

During his time in Seanad Éireann he tabled many amendments to government Bills and introduced 17 Private Members Bills. The most successful of those was the Construction Contracts Bill 2010 – to protect building sub-contractors which was enacted as the Construction Contracts Act 2013 and was brought into force on 23 July 2016.

The proposals contained in several of his other Bills were implemented - for example, in the Irish Nationality and Citizenship and Ministers and Secretaries (Amendment) Bill 2003, Senator Quinn sought to bring an end to the ‘passports for sale’ scheme. The following year, Senator Quinn’s proposal was enacted in the form of the Irish Nationality and Citizenship Act 2004.

A further example relates to the Social Welfare and Pensions (Amendment) Bill 2014 – a Senator Quinn Bill which sought to remove from Irish Water, the power to require its customers to provide their PPS numbers to the entity. Following the publication of the Bill, the Government announced that it had decided to "discontinue" the requirement for Irish Water customers to produce their PPS number. The Government subsequently amended the law to mirror Senator Quinn's proposal.

Senator Feargal Quinn was one of the co-founders and was a driving force behind Democracy Matters - a civil society group that was formed to oppose the Government's plans to abolish Seanad Éireann. In May 2013, with Senator Katherine Zappone and Senator Mary Ann O'Brien, he introduced the Seanad Bill 2013 to reform the system of electing the elected members of Seanad Éireann (as provided for in Article 18.10 of the Constitution of Ireland) through a one-person, one vote franchise. The Seanad Bill 2013 succeeded in being passed at Second Stage in the Seanad. During the Seanad abolition referendum campaign, the Bill demonstrated to the electorate, in a very palpable way, that reform of the Seanad was achievable if they voted for its retention. In a referendum held in October 2013 on the Thirty-second Amendment of the Constitution (Abolition of Seanad Éireann) Bill 2013, the people voted to retain the Seanad - 51.7% of votes nationally were against the abolition of the Seanad, with 48.3% in favour of its abolition. The importance of this Bill in fundamentally changing the dynamic of that referendum campaign was widely recognised, as was the effectiveness and influence of the ‘Democracy Matters’ group which was co-founded by Senator Quinn.

In 2014 Feargal Quinn revealed that since being first elected to Seanad Éireann, he had donated his entire salary to charity and in more recent years he had refused to accept any salary.[3]

He is Chairman of the Independent Alliance.[4] He did not contest the 2016 Seanad election.

See also


  1. ^ "Mr. Feargal Quinn". Oireachtas Members Database. Retrieved 18 March 2010.
  2. ^ "Feargal Quinn". ElectionsIreland.org. Retrieved 18 March 2010.
  3. ^ "Former Superquinn boss Feargal Quinn reveals he doesn't take his €65k salary - Independent.ie". Retrieved 2016-08-24.
  4. ^ "Feargal Quinn to announce he is to join Independent Alliance". The Irish Times. 29 June 2015.
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