Caption: Mary Mitchell O' Connor, 2017
Credit: Mary Mitchell O' Connor Collection



MAY 2016 - JUNE 2017

"It’s difficult to be yourself. Is your voice too soft? Is it too loud? You know, you have to try and get it just right. ”

- Interview with Mary Mitchell O'Connor taken from,

- Martina FitzGerald, Madam Politician, Gill Books, 2018

Ministerial Achievements

Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation (May 2016 – June 2017)

30th Government of Ireland, May 2016
Maxwell Photography

Mary held the jobs portfolio at a time when the economy was recovering and continued the 'Action Plan for Jobs', with the result that over 66,000 jobs were created in 2016. She put heavy emphasis on rural jobs and employment.


Minister of State for Higher Education 2017 to 2020.

31st Government of Ireland, June 2017
Maxwell Photography

Mary Mitchell O’Connor brought the Technological Universities Bill before the Houses of the Oireachtas.

She established a Gender Equality Taskforce to deliver a 3 year Action Plan for Gender Equality in Higher Education Institutions 2018 – 2020.

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar with Minister for State, Mary Michell O'Connor with the 'Fearless Girl' statue at the Launch of Gender Action Plan, 2018-2020.
Mary Mitchell O'Connor

She convened a National Workshop on Consent and eradicating sexual violence in Third Level Education.

Political Career timeline

  • Joined the Progressive Democrats in 2003.

    Mary Mitchell O'Connor, Progressive Democrats Newsletter, 2004.
    Alan Kinsella Collection

  • In 2004,  Mary was elected to Dún Laoghaire Rathdown County Council.
  • In 2007, Mary resigned from the Progressive Democrats and joined Fine Gael.

    Cllr. Mary Mitchell O'Connor, Progressive Democrats, calling card.
    Alan Kinsella Collection

  • In 2009, Mary was re-elected to the County Council as a member of Fine Gael. 
  • Mary was Chairperson of the Dún Laoghaire Area Committee for Environment, Housing, Culture, Community Development and Amenities.
  • In 2010 Mary secured the nomination to stand in the Dún Laoghaire constituency for Fine Gael. 
  • Mary was elected (her first General Election) to the 31st Dáil in February 2011.

    Mary Mitchell O'Connor- Election Literature, 2011
    Alan Kinsella Collection


  • Mary was appointed in 2011 as the Chairperson of the Internal Fine Gael Education Committee. 
  • Member of the Joint Committee on Health and Children. Member of the  Joint Committee on Public Service Oversight and Petitions, 2012 - February 2016.

    Mary Mitchell O'Connor- Newsletter, 2015
    Alan Kinsella Collection

  • Mary was appointed as Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation in May 2016.
  • Mary was appointed as Minister of State for Education (with responsibility for higher education) June 2017. This super junior role allows her to attend cabinet meetings but does not allow her to have a vote. 

    Minister of State for Higher Education, Mary Mitchell O'Connor
    Mary Mitchell O'Connor


Born Mary O’Connor on 10 June 1959 on a farm in Milltown, Co. Galway. She was educated in the Presentation Convent Tuam.

She trained as a Primary School Teacher in Carysfort College, Blackrock, County Dublin. After finishing college, she moved to Meath. She got work as a teacher in Scoil Cholmcille in Skryne County Meath. After several years, she became principal of the school.

She married in 1984 and had two sons Conor and Steven.

Mary Mitchell O'Connor with her two sons Conor and Steven.
Mary Mitchell O'Connor Collection.


For a while she left teaching and had her own retail business in Drogheda.

In 1999 Mary Mitchell O'Connor became Principal of the Harold School in Glasthule, a large school with over 600 pupils.

Mary attended National University Ireland (NUI) Maynooth and obtained an Honour Masters’ Degree in Education and Management.

In 2009 she attended the European Coaching Institute and secured a Diploma in Life Coaching.