John O'Connell (Dublin politician)

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John O'Connell
Minister for Health
In office
11 January 1992 – 12 January 1993
TaoiseachAlbert Reynolds
Preceded byMary O'Rourke
Succeeded byBrendan Howlin
Ceann Comhairle of Dáil Éireann
In office
30 June 1981 – 14 December 1982
DeputyJim Tunney
Preceded byPádraig Faulkner
Succeeded byThomas J. Fitzpatrick
Teachta Dála
In office
June 1989 – 22 February 1993
In office
June 1981 – June 1987
ConstituencyDublin South-Central
In office
June 1977 – June 1981
ConstituencyDublin Ballyfermot
In office
April 1965 – June 1977
ConstituencyDublin South-West
In office
12 April 1987 – 15 June 1989
ConstituencyNominated by the Taoiseach
Member of the European Parliament
In office
1 July 1979 – 20 October 1981
Personal details
Born(1927-01-20)20 January 1927
Dublin, Ireland
Died8 March 2013(2013-03-08) (aged 86)
Ranelagh, Dublin, Ireland
Political partyFianna Fáil
Other political
Elizabeth (Lilian) Gunning
(m. 1956; died 2002)
EducationSt. Vincent's C.B.S.
Alma materRoyal College of Surgeons

John Francis O'Connell (20 January 1927 – 8 March 2013) was an Irish Labour Party, independent and Fianna Fáil politician who served as Minister for Health from 1992 to 1993 and Ceann Comhairle of Dáil Éireann from 1981 to 1982. He served as a Teachta Dála (TD) from 1965 to 1987 and from 1989 to 1993. He served as a Member of the European Parliament (MEP) for the Dublin constituency from 1979 to 1981. He was a Senator from 1987 to 1989, after being nominated by the Taoiseach.[1][2]

Early life[edit]

O'Connell was born in a tenement at Aungier Street, Dublin, and educated at St. Vincent's C.B.S. in Glasnevin and the Royal College of Surgeons, Dublin.[3] In 1960 he founded MIMS Ireland, a monthly index of medical specialties, and in 1967 he founded the Irish Medical Times, a weekly broadsheet for doctors.

Political career[edit]

He began his political career when he was elected to Dáil Éireann as a Labour Party TD for Dublin South-West at the 1965 general election.[4] He held a seat for the party in the constituency until a revision of constituencies in 1977, when he was elected for Dublin Ballyfermot. At the first direct elections in 1979 to the European Parliament, he was elected with his running mate Michael O'Leary to the Dublin constituency.

There was a further revision of constituencies at the 1981 general election. He failed to be selected as a Labour Party candidate for Dublin South-Central with party leader Frank Cluskey. O'Connell was encouraged to stand in Dublin West, but refused.[5] He contested Dublin South-Central as an independent candidate, topping the poll, while Cluskey lost his seat.

When the 22nd Dáil met in June 1981, O'Connell was elected as Ceann Comhairle of Dáil Éireann.[6] He resigned from the European Parliament. In March 1982, at the beginning of the 23rd Dáil, he was elected to the position again.[7] However, in December 1982, when the 24th Dáil met, his nomination to the position was unsuccessful, being defeated by Fine Gael TD Tom Fitzpatrick.[8] As outgoing Ceann Comhairle, O'Connell was returned automatically in the two elections of 1982.

He remained an independent TD until February 1985, when he joined Fianna Fáil.[9] He lost his Dáil seat at the 1987 general election. That year he was one of those nominated by the Taoiseach Charles Haughey to the 18th Seanad, serving until he regained his Dáil seat at the 1989 general election.

Following Albert Reynolds' resignation from cabinet, O'Connell supported him and is seen as one of those who helped persuade Haughey to resign when he did. O'Connell was appointed Minister for Health by Reynolds in 1992.[10] He remained as Minister for Health until 1993, when owing to ill-health, he retired from cabinet and then resigned from the Dáil.[11][3]

Further controversy surrounded O'Connell's relationship with Charles Haughey in later years. It was revealed during the Moriarty Tribunal firstly that O'Connell was the middleman for donations from Arab tycoon Mahmoud Fustok to Haughey; and secondly that O'Connell had invested a significant sum in Celtic Helicopters, a business venture owned by Haughey's son Ciarán.[3]

In the 1970s he arranged a meeting in his home between Harold Wilson MP, then leader of the British Labour Party, and Dáithí Ó Conaill, a member of the Provisional IRA Army Council. Negotiations that night to broker a ceasefire were successful in the short term, but ultimately broke down.

In 1988 he published a memoir, Doctor John: crusading doctor and politician.[3]


  1. ^ Fiach Kelly (8 March 2013). "Former Ceann Comhairle John O'Connell dies". Irish Independent. Archived from the original on 4 January 2014. Retrieved 8 March 2013.
  2. ^ "John O'Connell". Oireachtas Members Database. Archived from the original on 20 April 2019. Retrieved 5 January 2010.
  3. ^ a b c d Maume, Patrick. "Butler, John". Dictionary of Irish Biography. Retrieved 2 February 2023.
  4. ^ "John O'Connell". Archived from the original on 30 November 2010. Retrieved 5 January 2010.
  5. ^ Kiely, Niall (20 January 1981). "Labour TD to defy ruling". The Irish Times. Retrieved 13 November 2022.
  6. ^ "Election of Ceann Comhairle – Dáil Éireann (22nd Dáil) – Vol. 329 No. 1". Houses of the Oireachtas. 30 June 1981. Archived from the original on 8 July 2022. Retrieved 28 August 2022.
  7. ^ "Election of Ceann Comhairle – Dáil Éireann (23rd Dáil) – Vol. 333 No. 1". Houses of the Oireachtas. 9 March 1982. Archived from the original on 25 June 2022. Retrieved 28 August 2022.
  8. ^ "Election of Ceann Comhairle – Dáil Éireann (24th Dáil) – Vol. 339 No. 1". Houses of the Oireachtas. 14 December 1982. Archived from the original on 8 July 2022. Retrieved 28 August 2022.
  9. ^ "O'Connell joins FF". The Irish Times. 19 February 1985.
  10. ^ "Members of Government and Ministers of State: Announcement by Taoiseach – Dáil Éireann (26th Dáil)". Houses of the Oireachtas. 13 February 1992. Archived from the original on 16 November 2019. Retrieved 18 January 2020.
  11. ^ "Resignation of Member – Dáil Éireann (27th Dáil) – Vol. 426 No. 6". Houses of the Oireachtas. 24 February 1993. Retrieved 8 July 2022.

External links[edit]

Political offices
Preceded by Ceann Comhairle of Dáil Éireann
Succeeded by
Preceded by Minister for Health
Succeeded by