Finian McGrath

Finian McGrath
Minister of State for Disability Issues
Assumed office
6 May 2016
Taoiseach Enda Kenny
Preceded by New office
Teachta Dála
Assumed office
February 2016
Constituency Dublin Bay North
Teachta Dála
In office
May 2002  February 2016
Constituency Dublin North–Central
Personal details
Born (1953-04-09) 9 April 1953
Tuam, Galway, Ireland
Nationality Irish
Political party Independent
Spouse(s) Anne Russell (died 2009)
Children 2
Alma mater University College Dublin

Finian McGrath (born 9 April 1953) is an Irish independent politician. He has been a Teachta Dála (TD) since 2002, currently for Dublin Bay North, and is Minister of State for Disability Issues.[1]

Early and personal life

Originally from Tuam, Galway, he was a primary school principal at St. Mary's Christian Brothers School in Dublin before entering politics. He had two daughters with his wife Anne, who died in November 2009.[2] McGrath was a contestant on the You're a Star charity special in summer 2005, where he came in second. He released a charity single in December 2005 which featured the Christmas song "Angels We Have Heard on High" and the classic "Bad, Bad Leroy Brown". All proceeds from the sales of this single were donated to Down syndrome Ireland.

Political career

He was an unsuccessful candidate in the Dublin North–Central constituency at the 1992 and 1997 general elections. He was elected to Dublin City Council in 1999 with the second-highest vote in the Clontarf electoral area. He was first elected to Dáil Éireann at the 2002 general election where he stood as an Independent Health Alliance candidate in the Dublin North–Central constituency. He joined the technical group, established to ensure Dáil speaking time for independent TDs. In March 2003, due to being a dual mandate TD, he gave up his Dublin City Council seat to Ger Drogan, who later was replaced by Fintan Cassidy, who failed to get elected in the subsequent 2004 local elections.

McGrath was re-elected to the 30th Dáil at the 2007 general election, confounding predictions that he would lose due to the loss of a seat from the constituency. He garnered a large number of transfers from the Sinn Féin and Labour Party candidates.[3]

As an independent member of the 30th Dáil, McGrath pledged his support for the new government formed in June 2007. In so doing, he secured a deal with Taoiseach Bertie Ahern, which he made public by entering it in the Dáil record. This public announcement was hailed by many observers who had criticised other independent TDs such as Michael Lowry and Jackie Healy-Rae for keeping similar deals secret. On 20 October 2008, following the 2009 Budget, McGrath withdrew his support for the government in protest at the abolition of an automatic medical card for the over-70s, cuts in education and the increase of the pupil-teacher ratio. After the election of Pearse Doherty McGrath joined the Technical group, which consisted of the Sinn Féin deputies and the Independent Maureen O'Sullivan.[4] He was re-elected at the 2011 general election where he served as chair of the Technical group.

McGrath endorsed the independent candidate Damien O'Farrell at the 2009 local elections for the Clontarf electoral area in Dublin City Council,[5] who was elected topping the poll.[6]

During the 2011 presidential election, McGrath initially agreed to support Senator David Norris for nomination. On 2 August, Norris publicly announced at a press conference that he was withdrawing from the presidential race. This followed the decision of McGrath, and the TDs John Halligan and Thomas Pringle to withdraw their support following revelations that Norris had written a letter to an Israeli court asking clemency for his former partner Ezra Nawi, who was then facing criminal charges. Norris withdrew his candidacy on 2 August due to the controversy.[7] Sinn Féin proposed Martin McGuinness for their nomination for a presidential candidate. McGrath agreed, along with four other independent TDs, to sign McGuinness's nomination paper.

McGrath resigned as chair of the technical group in October 2012 after a dispute with Mick Wallace over Wallace's participation in the loose alliance related to speaking rights in the Dáil.[8] He joined the Independent Alliance at its inception in 2016.[9] He contested the 2016 general election under that banner, in Dublin Bay North owing to the abolition of Dublin North–Central. He was re-elected to the Dáil and then entered talks on government formation. On 6 May 2016 he entered Government with Fine Gael, under Taoiseach Enda Kenny, as Minister of State for Disability Issues. McGrath was also appointed a "super junior" minister, meaning he attends cabinet meetings but cannot vote.

Political beliefs

Describing himself as "someone who comes from the tradition of Tone and Connolly",[10] McGrath has generally held soft left-wing political views. He has cited health, education and disability as his policy priorities. He has also campaigned against the Iraq War and the U.S. military's use of Shannon Airport as a stopover, and on local environmental issues.

McGrath has spoken in support of Fidel Castro's socialist government in Cuba. When challenged on Cuba's supposed poor human rights record, McGrath replied that Cuba has "a different kind of democracy to Ireland."[11]


  1. "Mr. Finian McGrath". Oireachtas Members Database. Retrieved 30 September 2009.
  2. "Wife of Finian McGrath dies". The Irish Times. 7 November 2009.
  3. "Finian McGrath". Retrieved 4 October 2011.
  4. "SF forms Dáil Technical Group". The Irish Times. 10 December 2010.
  5. "Damian O'Farrell selected as Independent Candidate for June Local Elections". Finian McGraths's website. 12 February 2009.
  6. "2009 Local elections - Clontarf". Retrieved 21 January 2011.
  7. "Norris withdraws from presidential election race". The Irish Times. 2 August 2011. Retrieved 5 August 2011.
  8. "Finian McGrath resigns as chairman of Technical Group". RTÉ News. 16 October 2012.
  9. "Feargal Quinn to announce he is to join Independent Alliance". The Irish Times. 29 June 2015.
  10. "TD McGrath mourns death of wife". Evening Herald. 7 November 2009.
  11. "Finian puts his faith in Fidel's 'different' take on democracy". The Sunday Business Post. 30 April 2006. Retrieved 21 January 2011. Archived February 25, 2007, at the Wayback Machine.
Preceded by
Richard Bruton
Ivor Callely
Seán Haughey
Derek McDowell
Teachta Dála for Dublin North–Central
With: Richard Bruton
Ivor Callely to 2007
Seán Haughey to 2011
Aodhán Ó Ríordáin 2011–16
Constituency abolished
New constituency Teachta Dála for Dublin Bay North
With: Tommy Broughan
Richard Bruton
Seán Haughey
Denise Mitchell
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