Niamh Bhreathnach

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Niamh Bhreathnach
Niamh Bhreathnach.jpg
Minister for Education
In office
15 December 1994 – 26 June 1997
Taoiseach John Bruton
Preceded by Michael Smith
Succeeded by Micheál Martin
In office
12 January 1993 – 17 November 1994
Taoiseach Albert Reynolds
Preceded by Séamus Brennan
Succeeded by Michael Smith
Teachta Dála
In office
November 1992 – June 1997
Constituency Dún Laoghaire
In office
20 June 1997 – 3 July 1997
Constituency Nominated by the Taoiseach
Personal details
Niamh Síle Bhreathnach

(1945-06-01) 1 June 1945 (age 73)
Loughlinstown, Dublin, Ireland
Nationality Irish
Political party Labour Party
Spouse(s) Tom Ferris (m. 1981)
Relations Breandán Breathnach (Father)
Children 2
Education Dominican College Sion Hill
Alma mater Froebel College of Education

Niamh Síle Bhreathnach (born 1 June 1945) is a former Irish Labour Party politician who served as Minister for Education from 1993 to 1994 and 1994 to 1997. She served as a Teachta Dála (TD) for the Dún Laoghaire constituency from 1992 to 1997. She was a Senator from June 1997 to July 1997, upon being Nominated by the Taoiseach.[1]

She is one of six TDs to be appointed Minister on their first day in the Dáil.

Bhreathnach was born in Loughlinstown, Dublin in 1945, the daughter of Breandán Breathnach, a civil servant and collector of traditional music. She was educated at Dominican College Sion Hill and Froebel College of Education, Dublin, later qualifying as a remedial teacher.

Bhreathnach was chairperson of the Labour Party from 1990 until 1993. She was elected as a Teachta Dála for Dún Laoghaire at the 1992 general election, serving until her defeat at the 1997 general election. In 1993 she became Minister for Education in the Fianna Fáil-Labour Party coalition government. She remained in that post during the "Rainbow Coalition" until 1997. During her time as minister, the first White paper on Education was published, tuition fees for third-level institutions were abolished, and the Regional Technical Colleges were upgraded to Institutes of Technology. She also brought in the legacy posts, teaching positions for disadvantaged schools.[2]

After losing her Dáil seat in 1997, Bhreathnach was nominated by the outgoing Taoiseach, John Bruton, to the last days of the 20th Seanad.[3] She sought a nomination from the Labour Party for the elections to the 21st Seanad, and there was some surprise when she was not one of the five candidates nominated by the party. She did not seek a nomination from the nominating bodies.[4]

She stood again for the Dáil at the 2002 general election, but did not regain her seat, and did not contest the 2007 general election. She was a member of Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown County Council for the Blackrock local electoral area from 2004 to 2014.[5]


  1. ^ "Mrs. Niamh Bhreathnach". Oireachtas Members Database. Retrieved 19 February 2008.
  2. ^ "Ó Ríordáin to meet Quinn over cuts". RTÉ News. Retrieved 12 December 2011.
  3. ^ "Five chosen for vacancies in Seanad". The Irish Times. 14 June 1997. Retrieved 20 February 2008.
  4. ^ Michael O'Regan (19 June 1997). "Breathnach drops Seanad ambition". The Irish Times. Retrieved 7 March 2009.
  5. ^ "Niamh Bhreathnach". Retrieved 20 February 2008.

External links

  • Niamh Bhreathnach's page on the Labour Party website
Preceded by
Monica Barnes
(Fine Gael)
Labour Party Teachta Dála for Dún Laoghaire
Succeeded by
Monica Barnes
(Fine Gael)
Political offices
Preceded by
Séamus Brennan
Minister for Education
Succeeded by
Michael Smith
Preceded by
Michael Smith
Minister for Education
Succeeded by
Micheál Martin
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