John O'Connell (Dublin politician)

John Francis O'Connell (20 January 1927 – 8 March 2013) was an Irish 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]

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
John Francis O'Connell

(1927-01-20)20 January 1927
Drumcondra, Dublin, Ireland
Died8 March 2013(2013-03-08) (aged 86)
Ranelagh, County Dublin, Ireland
Political partyFianna Fáil
Other political
Spouse(s)Elizabeth (Lilian) O'Connell
(m. 1956; d. 2002)
EducationSt. Vincent's C.B.S.
Alma materRoyal College of Surgeons

Early life

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

Political career

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.[3] He held a seat for the party until the 1981 general election, when he was expelled for refusing to stand in the Dublin West constituency. Instead, he stood as an independent in Dublin South-Central, opposing the Labour leader, Frank Cluskey. O'Connell, always a large vote-getter, easily topped the poll and Cluskey lost his Dáil seat.

O'Connell was then elected as Ceann Comhairle of Dáil Éireann, and resigned from the European Parliament, to which he had been elected as an MEP for the Dublin constituency in the first direct elections in 1979. (His election to the first directly-elected European Parliament in 1979, along with running-mate Michael O'Leary, was an extraordinary achievement for the Labour Party.) He remained as Ceann Comhairle until December 1982, being returned automatically in the two elections of 1982. In 1983 he became a member of Fianna Fáil, representing the party until 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 Éireann, serving until he regained his Dáil seat at the 1989 general election.

Following Albert Reynolds' resignation from the 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. He remained as Minister for Health until 1993, when owing to ill-health he resigned from the Cabinet and from the Dáil.

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.

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 Army Council of the Provisional IRA. Negotiations that night to broker a ceasefire were successful in the short term, but ultimately broke down.


  1. Fiach Kelly (8 March 2013). "Former Ceann Comhairle John O'Connell dies". Irish Independent. Retrieved 8 March 2013.
  2. "John O'Connell". Oireachtas Members Database. Retrieved 5 January 2010.
  3. "John O'Connell". Retrieved 5 January 2010.
Political offices
Preceded by
Pádraig Faulkner
Ceann Comhairle of Dáil Éireann
Succeeded by
Thomas Fitzpatrick
Preceded by
Mary O'Rourke
Minister for Health
Succeeded by
Brendan Howlin
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