James Dooge

James Clement Dooge (30 July 1922 – 20 August 2010) was an Irish Fine Gael politician, engineer, climatologist, hydrologist and academic who served as Minister for Foreign Affairs from 1981 to 1982, Leader of Seanad Éireann and Leader of Fine Gael in the Seanad from 1982 to 1987 and Cathaoirleach of Seanad Éireann from 1973 to 1977. He served as a Senator from 1961 to 1977 and 1981 to 1987.

James Dooge
Minister for Foreign Affairs
In office
21 October 1981  9 March 1982
TaoiseachGarret FitzGerald
Preceded byJohn M. Kelly
Succeeded byGerry Collins
Leader of Seanad Éireann
In office
21 December 1982  3 April 1987
TaoiseachGarret FitzGerald
Preceded byEoin Ryan Snr
Succeeded byMick Lanigan
Leader of Fine Gael in the Seanad
In office
20 December 1982  10 April 1987
LeaderGarret FitzGerald
Preceded byGemma Hussey
Succeeded byMaurice Manning
Cathaoirleach of Seanad Éireann
In office
16 June 1973  29 October 1977
Preceded byMicheál Cranitch
Succeeded bySéamus Dolan
In office
1 December 1982  8 April 1987
ConstituencyNational University of Ireland
In office
30 October 1981  17 February 1982
ConstituencyNominated by the Taoiseach
In office
11 November 1969  7 October 1977
ConstituencyIndustrial and Commercial Panel
In office
17 December 1961  18 July 1969
ConstituencyLabour Panel
Personal details
James Clement Dooge

(1922-07-30)30 July 1922
Birkenhead, Cheshire, UK
Died20 August 2010(2010-08-20) (aged 88)
Monkstown, Dublin, Ireland
Political partyFine Gael
Spouse(s)Roni Dooge
(m. 1950; d. 1991)
EducationC.B.C. Monkstown
Alma mater

Dooge had a profound effect on the debate over climate change, in the world of hydrology and in politics in the formation of the European Union.

Dooge lived a multifaceted existence with his roles including a period as Irish Minister for Foreign Affairs, Acting President of Ireland (Presidential Commission), chairman of the report which led to the Single European Act and the Treaty of Maastricht, Chairman of the Irish Senate, Professor of Engineering in University College Cork and University College Dublin, President of the International Council for Science (ICSU), President of the Royal Irish Academy and Chairman of the Irish Film Board.[1]

Dooge was a member of the Royal Irish Academy and the Fellowship of Engineering. He worked as an expert consultant to a wide range of specialised United Nations agencies including UNESCO, World Meteorological Organization (WMO), United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), and the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO). He also acted in an expert consultancy role to DGXII (Research) at the European Commission.

He is best known in Ireland as only the second Senator to be appointed to the cabinet. In the world of academia and hydrology he is known for his numerous publications in the field with unit hydrograph theory developed by Dooge in 1959[2] and is generally regarded as a pioneer in the field.[3][4] His work in Europe through the Dooge Committee led to the formation of the SEA and the Treaty of Maastricht.[5]

Upon his death in 2010, UNESCO-IHE described him as a "towering figure and pioneer in hydrology"[4] whilst the Chancellor of the NUI, Dr. Maurice Manning, described him as "that rare phenomenon in Irish life, a public intellectual whose life was devoted, without posture, to the public service."[6] Professor John Sweeney who was one of the scientists as part of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change honoured with the Nobel Peace Prize in 2007 described him as "perhaps one of the most important, prolific and distinguished scientists of the past generation."[7]

Early life, career and academia

James Dooge was born in Birkenhead, UK in 1922. He was educated in Liverpool before moving to Dún Laoghaire and was educated by at Christian Brothers College. Dooge's father was an engineer and so were other relatives. At school Dooge convinced the authorities to bring in an Applied Mathematics teacher in to tutor him on the subject.[8]

He went on to University College Dublin (here he was awarded the Pierce Malone Scholarship in Theory of Structures and Strength of Materials) and qualified as an engineer. In 1942 he obtained a job with the Office of Public Works and in 1946 he began working with the Electricity Supply Board. Between 1954 and 1956 he was research associate at the Department of Civil engineering at University of Iowa and obtained a masters. Back working for the ESB in Ireland in 1956, he worked on a number of projects on the River Shannon. In 1958 Dooge became Professor of Civil engineering at University College Cork. In 1970 he became a Professor at University College Dublin. Between 1984 and 1987 Dooge worked at the Department of Engineering Hydrology at University College Galway. From 1988 he worked at University College Dublin at the Centre for Water Resources Research. From 1987 to 1990 he was also President of the Royal Irish Academy.

Dooge received an Honorary Doctorate from Heriot-Watt University in 2000.[9]

Contributions to science and hydrology


With numerous publications on the subject, he is credited with turning hydrology from an empirical technology into the science it is today.[10] Alongside fellow Irishman Professor Eamon Nash, he was the founder of what today is called systems hydrology in the early sixties.

In the sixties, Professor Dooge was active in developing an international network of hydrology scientists and engineers that stretched from the USA to the then USSR. "These contacts were very beneficial, enabling research taking place from all over the world to link up in meaningful ways and, in a sense, helping establish an international hydrological community. Initially, we were an informal group of six. This grew to the point where we had a committee of 12". Eventually this led to the establishment of the International Commission on Water Resource Systems within the International Association for Hydrological Sciences (IAHS). He served as its President for several years.[10][11]

Climate change

Professor Dooge was involved in some of the earliest work done to identify the causes of climate change. He was heavily involved in the discussions within WMO in 1978 that eventually led to the first World Climate Conference being held in Geneva in 1979. At the discussions a group of four were given two questions; Is there such a thing as a climate problem? And, if there is, is it serious enough to call a world conference of scientists to discuss it?

He served as chairman of the Scientific Advisory Committee of the World Climate Impact Advisory Committee and, on behalf of the UN secretary general, on the International Decade of Natural Disasters Advisory Board.

He witnessed first-hand the phenomenal growth in climate change awareness: "At that first conference the attendance was almost exclusively made up of scientists and engineers whereas, when the second World Climate Conference took place in 1990, the scientists and engineers were joined by a strong contingent of politicians, a sign that interest in the issues had broadened considerably."

In 1990, WMO launched the idea of an International Conference on Water and Climate that would be held as a preparatory meeting for the Rio Summit on the environment and development. Dooge arranged for the Conference to be held in Dublin in January 1992. References are still being made at international gatherings to the "Dublin Conference" as the most influential international conference in the field of water. As chairman the conference adopted the "Dublin Principles" that have been influential in shaping water management policy over the last 20 years.

Political career

As well as having a distinguished career as an academic, Dooge led a very active political life. His great grandfather was the first chairman of first Kingstown County Borough Council. He was a member of Dublin City Council from 1948, gaining notice from the Taoiseach of the time, John A. Costello.

From 1961 to 1977 Dooge was a Senator in Seanad Éireann, serving as its Cathaoirleach (chairperson) from 1973 to 1977.[12] Dooge worked closely with his colleague Garret FitzGerald during the late 1970s in re-organising the Fine Gael party, establishing the so-called Just Society wing of the party. As Cathaoirleach, Dooge was a member of the Commission (which also includes the Ceann Comhairle, or Speaker, of the Dáil and the Chief Justice) established by the Constitution to discharge the duties of the President in the event of the absence or incapacity of the President or during a vacancy in the office as a consequence of the death or resignation of the President. This happened twice during Dooge's term as Cathaoirleach. The first (only the second time in the history of the creation of the office in 1937) followed the death of Erskine Hamilton Childers. The second in 1976 followed the resignation of Cearbhall Ó Dálaigh in 1976. In 1977 he retired from politics, choosing to "devote more time to academic concerns and international cooperation in science and engineering".

In 1981 he made a return to politics and was appointed by the then Taoiseach FitzGerald as Minister for Foreign Affairs in the short-lived Fine Gael led government. The appointment was suggested by FitzGerald's wife who believed only Dooge could stop him frequently interfering in this area. When a new coalition Government was formed in 1982 (which would last until 1987) Dooge declined re-appointment to the post owing to the decline of his sight. Between 1982 and 1987 Dooge returned to Seanad Éireann.[13] He rejected the offer of becoming a European Commissioner offered by FitzGerald.

Dooge was a delegate of Fine Gael at the New Ireland Forum in 1985.

European Integration-Dooge Report

He had a primary role in the intergovernmental building of a report into improving co-operation of the European Economic Community (EEC) in 1984 during Ireland's Presidency. His appointment was not without controversy with FitzGerald who proposed the appointment of Dooge insisting with him despite German pressure for their former President, Karl Carstens, to be given the role.[14] This work (The Dooge Report) is credited as helping form the basis of the Single European Act and the Treaty of Maastricht with much of the language used the same.[5][15][16]


He was hailed as one of the founding fathers of modern hydrology.

Year Award
1953 Horton Award
1983 International Hydrology Prize[17]
1986 William Bowie Medal; Recognizing his "outstanding contribution to fundamental geophysics and for unselfish co-operation in research"
2000 Elected International Fellow at the Royal Academy of Engineering as an "outstanding" figure in the science of hydrology.
2001 International Meteorological Organization Prize, World Meteorological Organization [18]
2005 Prince Philip Medal; Recognizing him " as an outstanding figure in the field of hydrology"[19]
2006 Royal Irish Academy Gold Medal for Engineering Sciences (by President of Ireland, Mary McAleese)




  • (1973) Linear theory of hydrologic systems (Technical bulletin / United States Department of Agriculture) by Dooge J.C.I. Publisher: Agricultural Research Service, US Dept. of Agriculture (1973)
  • (1992) Advances in Theoretical Hydrology: A Tribute to James Dooge (European Geophysical Society Series on Hydrological Sciences), edited by J.P. O'Kane
  • (2003) Deterministic Methods in Systems Hydrology: IHE Delft Lecture Note Series (UNESCO-IHE Delft Lecture Note Series) by Dooge J.C.I. and J.P. O'Kane ISBN 978-90-5809-392-9
  • (2004) Global Water Resource Issues by Gordon J. Young, Dooge J.C.I. and John C. Rodda ISBN 978-0-521-46712-4

European Politics

  • (1999) A Vital National Interest: Ireland in Europe 1973–1998 by Dooge J.C.I. and R. Barrington ISBN 978-1-902448-22-0
  • (2002) What the Treaty of Nice Means by Dooge J.C.I. ISBN 978-1-874109-56-3

Irish Politics

  • (1986) Ireland in the Contemporary World: Essays in Honour of Garret Fitzgerald by Dooge J.C.I. ISBN 978-0-7171-1494-8

Selected Scholarly Articles and Reports

European Politics


  • (1986) Dooge J.C.I., "Looking for hydrologic laws", Water Resources Research, 22(9), 46S–58S.
  • (1997) Dooge, J.C.I., "Searching for Simplicity in Hydrology", Surveys in Geophysics 18: 511–534, 1997.
  • (2003) Dooge, J.C.I., "Linear Theory of Hydrological Systems", EGU Reprint Series, 1, 2003.
  • (2005) Dooge, J.C.I., "Bringing it all together", Hydrol. Earth Syst. Sci., 9, 3–14, 2005


Dooge died at his home in Dublin on 20 August 2010.[20][21]


  1. "Eminent senator, statesman and man of science". The Irish Times. 8 August 2010. Retrieved 7 September 2010.
  2. J.C.I. Dooge, Parameterization of hydrologic processes, JSC Study Conference on Land Surface Processes in Atmospheric General Circulation Models, 243–284 (1959)
  3. "Jim Dooge, One of the Pioneers of Hydrology passed away". The European Geosciences Union. Archived from the original on 18 September 2010. Retrieved 13 September 2010.
  4. "UNESCO-IHE Honorary Fellow Professor James C. I. Dooge died at the age of 88 on 20 August 2010". UNESCO-IHE. Archived from the original on 16 July 2011. Retrieved 12 September 2010.
  5. "Godfather of the European Union: Altiero Spinelli-Victory in Sight". The Bruges Group. Archived from the original on 8 July 2011. Retrieved 13 September 2010.
  6. "Renaissance man devoted to public service". The Irish Times. 8 August 2010. Retrieved 13 September 2010.
  7. "What is Ireland's climate future?". Science Pin. Archived from the original on 16 July 2011. Retrieved 13 September 2010.
  8. "Profile of Professor James Dooge FREng". Ingenia. September 2005.
  9. webperson@hw.ac.uk. "Heriot-Watt University Edinburgh: Honorary Graduates". www1.hw.ac.uk. Retrieved 4 April 2016.
  10. "UNESCO-IHE Honorary Fellow Professor James C. I. Dooge died at the age of 88 on 20 August 2010". UNESCO-IHE. Archived from the original on 16 July 2011. Retrieved 12 September 2010.
  11. "Obituary James Dooge". World Meteorological Organisation. Retrieved 12 September 2010.
  12. "James Dooge". Oireachtas Members Database. Retrieved 21 August 2010.
  13. "James Dooge". ElectionsIreland.org. Retrieved 21 August 2010.
  14. "One of Ireland's foremost scientists and a statesman of great distinction ". The Irish Times. 8 August 2010. Retrieved 13 September 2010.
  15. Chief Justice Honoured at conferring at UCD, The Irish Times, 9 June 2001
  16. "The Single European Act Preparation". The European Union Constitution. Archived from the original on 4 December 2010. Retrieved 20 August 2010.
  17. IAHS International Hydrology Prize Winners
  18. "Winners of the IMO Prize". World Meteorological Organization. Archived from the original on 22 November 2015. Retrieved 8 December 2015.
  19. RAE: Dooge news release (June 2, 2005)
  20. "Death notice". The Irish Times. 21 August 2010.
  21. "Former minister for foreign affairs James Dooge (88) dies". The Irish Times. 21 August 2010.
Preceded by
Micheál Cranitch
Cathaoirleach of Seanad Éireann
Succeeded by
Séamus Dolan
Political offices
Preceded by
John Kelly
Minister for Foreign Affairs
Succeeded by
Gerry Collins
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