Niamh Bhreathnach
Niamh Bhreathnach is an Irish Labour Party
Labour Party (Ireland)
The Labour Party is a social-democratic political party in the Republic of Ireland. The Labour Party was founded in 1912 in Clonmel, County Tipperary, by James Connolly, James Larkin and William X. O'Brien as the political wing of the Irish Trade Union Congress. Unlike the other main Irish...

 politician. She was a Teachta Dála
Teachta Dála
A Teachta Dála , usually abbreviated as TD in English, is a member of Dáil Éireann, the lower house of the Oireachtas . It is the equivalent of terms such as "Member of Parliament" or "deputy" used in other states. The official translation of the term is "Deputy to the Dáil", though a more literal...

 (TD) for Dún Laoghaire
Dún Laoghaire (Dáil Éireann constituency)
Dún Laoghaire is a parliamentary constituency represented in Dáil Éireann, the lower house of the Irish parliament or Oireachtas. The constituency elects 4 deputies...

 from 1992 until 1997, and served as Minister for Education
Minister for Education and Science (Ireland)
The Minister for Education and Skills is the senior minister at the Department of Education and Skills in the Government of Ireland.The current Minister for Education and Skills is Ruairi Quinn, TD...

 from 1993 until 1997. She holds the distinction of being one of only five TDs to be appointed Minister on their first day in the Dáil.

Bhreathnach was born in Dublin in 1945, the daughter of Breandán Breathnach
Breandán Breathnach
Breandán Breathnach was an Irish music collector and Uilleann piper.Breathnach worked as a civil servant with the Department of Education and was responsible for collecting music from around Ireland. By the time of his death he had collected over 7,000 tunes published from 1963...

, a civil servant and highly-regarded collector of Irish Music. Educated at Sion Hill and at Froebel Teacher Training College, Dublin
Froebel College of Education
Froebel College of Education, is located at Sion Hill, Cross Avenue, Blackrock, Dublin and is run by the Dominican Order. It is one of five Colleges in Ireland which is recognized by the Department of Education and Skills for the training and education of national school teachers.Froebel College,...

, she later qualified as a remedial teacher. Bhreathnach was chairwoman of the Labour Party from 1990 until 1993. She was elected as a Labour Party TD for the first time at the 1992 general election
Irish general election, 1992
The Irish general election of 1992 was held on Wednesday, 25 November 1992, almost three weeks after the dissolution of the Dáil on 5 November. However, after difficulties in forming a government the newly elected 166 members of the 27th Dáil did not assemble at Leinster House until 4 January 1993...

, serving until her defeat at the 1997
Irish general election, 1997
The Irish general election of 1997 was held on Friday, 6 June 1997. The 166 newly elected members of the 28th Dáil assembled on 26 June 1997 when a new Taoiseach and government were appointed....

. In 1993 she became Minister for Education in the Fianna Fáil
Fianna Fáil
Fianna Fáil – The Republican Party , more commonly known as Fianna Fáil is a centrist political party in the Republic of Ireland, founded on 23 March 1926. Fianna Fáil's name is traditionally translated into English as Soldiers of Destiny, although a more accurate rendition would be Warriors of Fál...

-Labour Party coalition. She remained in that post during the "Rainbow Coalition" until 1997. During this time tuition fees for third-level institutions were abolished, and perhaps her most lasting achievement was the upgrading of the WRTC/Waterford Institute of Technology
Waterford Institute of Technology
Waterford Institute of Technology is a state funded third-level educational institution situated in the city of Waterford, Ireland. The Institute has six Schools and 16 Departments....


After losing her Dáil seat in 1997, Bhreathnach was nominated by the outgoing Taoiseach
Nominated by the Taoiseach
The composition of Seanad Éireann, the upper house of the Oireachtas of Ireland, is defined in outline by Article 18 of the Constitution of Ireland, which provides for 11 appointees that are nominated by the Taoiseach...

, John Bruton
John Bruton
John Gerard Bruton is an Irish politician who served as Taoiseach of Ireland from 1994 to 1997. A minister under two taoisigh, Liam Cosgrave and Garret FitzGerald, Bruton held a number of the top posts in Irish government, including Minister for Finance , and Minister for Industry, Trade,...

, to the last days of the 20th Seanad. 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.

She stood again for the Dáil at the 2002 general election
Irish general election, 2002
The Irish general election of 2002 was held on Friday, 17 May 2002 just over three weeks after the dissolution of the 28th Dáil on Thursday 25 April by President Mary McAleese, at the request of the Taoiseach, Bertie Ahern...

, but did not regain her seat, and did not contest the 2007 election. She is still a member of Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown County Council
Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown County Council
Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown County Council is the local authority for the county of Dún Laoghaire–Rathdown in Ireland. It is one of three local authorities that comprised the former Dublin County Council before its abolition and one of four councils in the Dublin Region. It serves a population of...

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