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Noel Dempsey

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Noel Dempsey (born January 1953), is a senior Irish Fianna Fáil politician. He is currently a Teachta Dála (TD) for Meath and Minister for Communications, Marine & Natural Resources. Dempsey has previously served as Minister for the Environment and Local Government (1997-2002) and Minister for Education & Science (2002-2004).

Noel Dempsey was born in Trim, County Meath and was educated at St. Michael's Christian Brothers School, St. Patrick's College Maynooth and at University College Dublin where he qualified as a career guidance councillor. Dempsey became involved in local politics in 1977 when he was elected to Meath County Council as a Fianna Fáil candidate. In 1987 he was elected to Dáil Éireann for the first time. Dempsey was initially a supporter of Charles Haughey however he became disillusioned with his leadership when he lead Fianna Fáil into coalition with the Progressive Democrats in 1989. Dempsey was one of a number of TDs who was vehemently opposed to such a move.

In September 1991 Dempsey came to national pominence when he became one of four Fianna Fáil backbenchers to call for the resignation of Charles Haughey as Taoiseach. He supported Albert Reynolds in his unsuccessful bid to oust Haughey in late 1991. In 1992 Reynolds eventually came to power and Dempsey became Government Chief Whip and Minister of State at the Departments of An Taoiseach, Defence and Finance. Fianna Fáil lost power in 1994 and Bertie Ahern became the new leader. Dempsey was named as Opposition Spokesman for the Environment in Ahern's Front Bench. In 1997 Dempsey was a key figure in the negotiations which lead to the Fianna Fáil-Progressive Democrats caolition government. He joined the Cabinet when he was appointed Minister for Environment and Local Government.

In 2002 the government was re-elected and Dempsey became Minister for Education and Science. In early 2003 Dempsey revealed his political ambition when he announced that should the position become available he would seek the leadership of the Fianna Fáil party and the Taoiseachship.

Noel Dempsey has become legendary for the backdowns and radical plans he has had made whilst a minister. In the mid 1990's he became embroiled in a public disagreement with the Minister for Arts, Culture and Heritage, Michael D. Higgins, regarding plans to build a number of interpretative centres in environmentally sensitive areas around the country. Whilst in the local government portfolio he attempted to remove the "dual mandate" whereby someone can be a public representative in the national parliament and on a county council. He had to withdraw from this attempt at reform and withdrew from public life for a short time, possibly due to stress. He also attempted to reform medical education by instructing the Higher Education Authority to report on the issue. Dempsey has also had to withdraw other proposals, such as third-level fees and other reforms of Dáil Éireann.


Preceded by:
Dermot Ahern
Minister of State at the Department of the Taoiseach
1992–1994
Succeeded by:
Seán Barret
Preceded by:
Brendan Howlin
Minister for Environment & Local Government
1997–2002
Succeeded by:
Martin Cullen
Preceded by:
Michael Woods
Minister for Education & Science
2002–2004
Succeeded by:
Mary Hanafin
Preceded by:
Dermot Ahern
Minister for Communications, Marine & Natural Resources
2004–
Succeeded by:
Current Incumbent

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