Des Hanafin

Desmond A. Hanafin (9 September 1930 – 22 June 2017) was an Irish Fianna Fáil politician who served for over 30 years as a member of Seanad Éireann.[1] (1969–93 and 1997–2002). He opposed social liberalisation, particularly the legalisation of abortion, divorce and same-sex marriage, and was one of the founders of the anti-abortion advocacy group, Pro Life Campaign.

Des Hanafin
In office
In office
ConstituencyLabour Panel
Personal details
Born(1930-09-09)9 September 1930
Thurles, County Tipperary, Ireland
Died22 June 2017(2017-06-22) (aged 86)
Political partyFianna Fáil
ChildrenJohn Hanafin, Mary Hanafin

Personal life

Hanafin was born in Thurles, County Tipperary, in 1930, son of John Hanafin (1890–1953), a draper and newsagent who served for many years as a Fianna Fáil councillor for North Tipperary County Council and previously was a member of the Irish Republican Brotherhood and an elected Sinn Féin councillor.[2][3]

He married Mona Brady, daughter of J. P. Brady, on 28 August 1958 in Clonmel, Tipperary.[4] The wedding was followed by a reception at the Galtee Hotel, Cahir, which was attended by various notables including Rev. Father J. J. Hampson, President of Blackrock College.[5] Their first child, Mary Hanafin, was born in June 1959, followed by John Hanafin in September 1960. Mary Hanafin is a former Fianna Fáil TD and government minister,[6] and John Hanafin is a former Fianna Fáil senator.[7]

Hanafin operated the Anner Hotel, located in Thurles during the 1960s. Initially successful,[8] the business failed in 1967,[9] which Mary Hanafin later blamed on her father's excess drinking.[10] Subsequently, Hanafin was a director of the Transinternational Oil Company.[11]

Political career

Hanafin's first attempt to be elected to public office proved unsuccessful. In 1953, Hanafin sought to be co-opted to fill the vacancy on North Tipperary County Council created by the death of his father, John Hanafin. In the event councillors co-opted a Labour Party nominee, Michael Treacy, by eleven votes to seven.[12]

He was elected a member of North Tipperary County Council in 1955, polling 934 first preference votes.[13] Subsequently, in 1956, drawing support from the Clann na Poblachta representatives, he was elected Chairman of the County Council.[14]

In 1957, he conducted a three-month tour of the United States, during which he was commissioned a Kentucky colonel, by then Kentucky Governor Albert "Happy" Chandler. He was also awarded the freedom of Louisville, Kentucky, and received by Mayor Richard J. Daley of Chicago.[15]

Hanafin was re-elected to North Tipperary County Council in 1960, polling 797 first preference votes.[16] In 1961, he voted against the Fianna Fáil nominee for Chair of the County Council, Thomas F. Meagher, and in favour of the Clann na Poblachta nominee, Michael F. Cronin, who was elected by 10 votes to 9.[17] In 1964, he controversially voted in favour of Jeremiah Mockler, "a former school mate", who was elected by 10 votes to 9 to the office of Rate Collector for Borrisokane.[18]

He held the seat until 1985. He was first elected to Seanad Éireann in 1969 and retained his seat until the 1993 Seanad election at which he lost his seat by one vote.[19] He regained his seat in the 1997 elections, and in 2002 announced his retirement from politics.[20] He unsuccessfully contested the 1977 and 1981 Dáil elections for the Tipperary North constituency.[20] He was a chief fundraiser of the Fianna Fáil party for many years.[20]

Social issues


In May 2015, he accused equality campaigners in the marriage equality referendum of spreading a "palpable climate of fear", and called for a No vote.[21]


He opposed the legalisation of divorce, which was introduced in 1995, and attempted to overturn the referendum result in the Supreme Court, but was refused by the court.[22]


An opponent of abortion, Hanafin was one of the promoters of the constitutional amendment that enshrined the legal ban on abortion in the Constitution of Ireland. He was co-founder, chairman[23] and later honorary president of the Pro Life Campaign.[24]


On 22 June 2017, Hanafin died at the age of 86.[24]

See also


  1. "Des Hanafin". Oireachtas Members Database. Retrieved 23 October 2015.
  2. Interview with Des and Mary Hanafin, Miriam Meets, 18 April 2010.
  3. "John Hanafin MCC". Nenagh Guardian, Saturday, 25 July 1953; Page: 5.
  4. "People and Places". Irish Press, Tuesday, 19 August 1958; Page: 6.
  5. "Clonmel Commentary". Munster Express, Friday, 5 September 1958; Page: 3.
  6. "Mary Hanafin". Oireachtas Members Database. Retrieved 18 September 2009.
  7. "John Hanafin". Oireachtas Members Database. Retrieved 27 February 2010.
  8. "Desies Ballad Sessions". Nenagh Guardian, Saturday, 5 December 1964; Page: 4.
  9. "Notice to Creditors". Irish Press, Thursday, 8 June 1967; Page: 16.
  10. "Hanafin tells of father's drinking". Irish Independent.
  11. Ross, Shane (5 June 2005). "Des Hanafin". Irish Independent. Retrieved 23 June 2017.
  12. "Labour Candidate Co-Opted To Tipperary Council". Irish Examiner, Saturday, 21 November 1953; Page: 8.
  13. "The Coming Elections – Parties Select Candidates". Nenagh Guardian, Saturday, 14 May 1960; Page: 6.
  14. "Surprise in Election of Chairman, Desmond Hanafin Elected on Vote". Nenagh Guardian, Saturday, 7 July 1956; Section: Front page, Page: 1.
  15. "Commissioned as Kentucky Colonel". Irish Examiner, Monday, 10 February 1958; Page: 4.
  16. "Full Returns in County Council Elections". Nenagh Guardian, Saturday, 9 July 1960; Page 4. Missing or empty |url= (help)
  17. "Close Vote for County Council Chairmanship". Nenagh Guardian, Saturday, 1 July 1961; Page 1. Missing or empty |url= (help)
  18. "Councillor's Dilemma In Local Appointment". Nenagh Guardian, Saturday, 22 August 1964; Page: 9.
  19. "Des Hanafin". Retrieved 23 October 2015.
  20. Sheehy, Clodagh (23 June 2017). "Obituary: Des Hanafin". Irish Independent. Retrieved 23 June 2017.
  21. "Yes camp has spread 'palpable climate of fear' says Hanafin". Irish Independent. 16 May 2015.
  22. Molly, Amy (4 November 2016). "Ireland's oldest practicing barrister has passed away at 100 years of age". Irish Independent. Retrieved 4 November 2016.
  23. "Pro-Life Campaign rejects proposal to introduce abortion legislation". The Irish Times. 5 July 1996. Retrieved 23 June 2017.
  24. Minihan, Mary (22 July 2017). "Former Fianna Fáil Senator Des Hanafin has died aged 86". The Irish TImes. Retrieved 23 June 2017.
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