Mary Harney, former Tánaiste and Minister for Health and Children, was appointed Chancellor of the University of Limerick (UL) and Chairperson of UL’s Governing Authority, following a unanimous vote by the authority. Her term will run until 2022.
Harney retired from politics in 2011. Following her tenure, she became director of several private companies within industries such as finance and pharmaceuticals.
Harney studied economics in Trinity and was the first woman elected as Auditor of the College Historical Society (The Hist). Following her graduation from Trinity in 1976 she entered teaching. She taught economics and mathematics in Castleknock College before she began her political career when she became the youngest member of Seanad Eireann when she was appointed in 1977.
She became the first woman to lead a political party in Ireland when she was leader of the, now defunct, Progressive Democrats from 2007 to 2008. She was the longest serving Teachta Dála (TD) in the state’s history
She declared the 495 patients on trolleys instead of beds a national emergency in 2006. The number today stands at 677. She attracted controversy during her tenure as Minister for Health and Children, often becoming the target of protests.
In a press release, Dr. Des Fitzgerald, President of UL welcomed Harney’s experience in her previous roles.“I wholeheartedly welcome the decision of the Governing Authority and know that the appointment of Mary Harney as our Chancellor will allow us to draw on her extensive experience as a leader and as an eminent public figure in Ireland and internationally. Mary has always been a pioneer in her field and a mould breaker in her political and public life.”
Harney also expressed her appreciation of the appointment. “I am deeply honoured and delighted to have been appointed Chancellor of the University of Limerick. UL is a nimble, responsive university at the forefront of innovation. I look forward to working with the President and the Governing Authority to develop further and enhance the education and research potential of this great university.”