Political career: Grassroots favourite
FIRST ELECTED to Dáil Éireann at the top of the poll for the Dublin North West constituency as one of 33 Labour TDs led by Dick Spring in November 1992, Róisín Shortall held her seat on the tenth count in the difficult 1997 general election, when the “Spring Tide” had run out.
She was re-elected in 2002 and 2007 and returned to the top of the poll in last year’s general election, as well as bringing in a Labour running mate, John Lyons.
Having made a strong contribution in opposition, she was tipped as a possible Cabinet minister or at least “super-junior” with the right to attend Cabinet meetings, but in the end was not included among Eamon Gilmore’s choices for the top table.
Her Dublin base may have been a negative factor since most of the other Labour Ministers came from the capital – but the party leadership was also accused of gender bias towards men in its choices.
She was finally appointed as Minister of State at the Department of Health with responsibility for Primary Care.
One of the key issues she pursued as a junior Minister was alcohol consumption and the sponsorship link between drinks companies and sport.
There were differences with colleagues on her proposal to abolish sponsorship of sports and arts events by drinks companies over a number of years and this was quietly shelved by the Government until after the summer recess.
It also became evident that her working relationship with Minister for Health James Reilly was not a happy one and their differences became more and more public, culminating in last night’s resignation.
Her decision is likely to be popular with elements of the Labour rank and file, but her chances of finally attaining cabinet office in the future must now be considered problematic.
Born and brought up in the Dublin suburb of Drumcondra, Róisín Shortall attended the Dominican College, Eccles Street; University College Dublin; and St Mary’s College of Education in Marino.
Having worked as a teacher of the deaf, she was elected to Dublin City Council for the Drumcondra local electoral area in 1991.