Mary Robinson

(b. 1944) Irish Labour stateswoman, President 1990–7

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(b. 21 May 1944).

President of the Irish Republic 1990–7 Born in Ballina, Co. Mayo, and educated at Trinity College Dublin (BA 1967, MA 1970, LLB 1967), King's Inns Dublin and Harvard University (LLM 1968), Robinson initially pursued a legal career, becoming a barrister in 1967, and Reid professor of constitutional and criminal law at Trinity College Dublin (1969–75), and lecturer in European community law (1975–90). She was a Senator from 1969 to 1989. During the 1970s and 1980s, her legal career merged with interests in civil and social rights and greater European cooperation. In 1990 she was nominated by the Labour Party for the presidency, for which she was elected against the establishment candidates nominated by Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael. This was widely interpreted as signalling a shift in Irish society against social, cultural, and economic conservatism, a shift which as President she tried to encourage further. In addition to encouraging social and civil reform, she attempted to raise the international profile of Ireland by increasing participation in many international forums. She declined to stand for re-election, and became UN High Commissioner for Human Rights.

Subjects: Contemporary History (Post 1945).

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