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Micheál Martin (born August, 1960) is a senior Irish Fianna Fáil politician. He is a Teachta Dála (TD) for Cork South Central and is currently the Minister for Enterprise, Trade & Employment. He has previously served as Minister for Education & Science (1997-2000) and Minister for Health & Children (2000-2004).

Born in Cork in 1960, Micheál Martin is the son of Paddy Martin, an international boxer. He was educated locally at Coláiste Chríost Rí and at University College Cork. During his time at university he became interested in politics and joined the university cumann of Ógra Fianna Fáil, the youth organisation of the party. He went on to become National Chairman of Ógra. Qualifying from UCC with a Master of Arts degree, Martin then went on to become a Secondary School teacher.

Martin's political career began in 1985 when he was elected as a Fianna Fáil member of Cork Corporation, serving until 1999. In 1989 Micheál Martin was elected to Dáil Éireann as a Fianna Fáil TD. Three years later in 1992 he became Lord Mayor of Cork. In 1994 Bertie Ahern succeeded in becoming the new leader of Fianna Fáil. Martin was named as Fianna Fáil Spokesperson for Education and the Gaeltacht when Ahern named his Front Bench. When Fianna Fáil returned to power in 1997 Martin was the automatic choice to become Minister for Education & Science. At 36 he was the youngest member of Ahern's government. His own teaching background served him well in this task as he was regarded as being an excellent minister doing well for the education sector.

In January 2000 Martin was appointed Minister for Health & Children, succeeding Brian Cowen. The health portfolio in Irish politics is seen as something of a poisoned chalice for a TD with promotion and leadership ambitions. Having left the Department after a prolonged nurses strike the former Minister Cowen referred to the portfoilio as like being in Angola. Minister Martin is generally seen as being a good Health Minister who has battled to overcome such problems as hospital bed shortages, long Accident and Emergency queues, organ retention scandals and infant deaths. However, it appears that Martin has always put his ministerial duties before his personal ambition in trying to reform the Irish health system.

In 2003 Minister Martin met with severe opposition over his plans to introduce a Smoking ban in all Irish workplaces, including pubs and restaurants. The most vocal opposition came from publicans who claimed the introduction of a ban would result in a loss of profit for them. However, Martin did not relent and the smoking ban was introduced on March 29, 2004, thus making the Republic of Ireland the first country in the world to introduce a blanket ban on smoking in the workplace. Martin has received worldwide praise from health chiefs for his courage in introducing the ban, which has a 95% compliance rate. In September 2004 his achievement was recognised by the European Respiratory Society when they presented him with an award.

On September 29, 2004 An Taoiseach Bertie Ahern announced his new Cabinet. Martin was appointed Minister for Enterprise, Trade & Employment, one of the senior economic ministeries in the government.

Both Micheál Martin and the Irish Finance Minister, Brian Cowen, are seen as the two possible contenders to succeed Bertie Ahern as leader of Fianna Fáil. Martin has indicated his interest in becoming leader of the Party and possibly Taoiseach if Ahern resigned in his own time. However, he is reluctant to comment further on his political ambition and has stated that he is satisfied serving in the Cabinet at the moment.

Political Career


Preceded by:
Niamh Bhreathnach
Minister for Education & Science
1997–2000
Succeeded by:
Michael Woods
Preceded by:
Brian Cowen
Minister for Health & Children
2000–2004
Succeeded by:
Mary Harney
Preceded by:
Mary Harney
Minister for Enterprise, Trade & Employment
2004–
Succeeded by:
Current Incumbent

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