Willie Penrose

Willie Penrose (born 1 August 1956) is an Irish Labour Party politician who has served as Chairman of the Labour Parliamentary Party since February 2016. He served as Minister of State for Housing and Planning from March 2011 to November 2011. He has been a Teachta Dála (TD) since 1992, currently for the Longford–Westmeath constituency.[1][2]

Willie Penrose

Chairman of the Labour Parliamentary Party
Assumed office
29 February 2016
Preceded byJack Wall
Minister of State for Housing and Planning
In office
9 March 2011  15 November 2011
TaoiseachEnda Kenny
Preceded byNew office
Succeeded byJan O'Sullivan
Teachta Dála
Assumed office
May 2007
In office
November 1992  May 2007
Personal details
William Penrose

(1956-08-01) 1 August 1956
Ballynacargy, County Westmeath, Ireland
Political partyLabour Party
(1969–2011), (2013–)
Other political
Independent (2011–13)
Spouse(s)Anne Fitzsimons
Alma mater

Early life

Penrose was born in Ballynacargy, County Westmeath, and educated at St. Mary's CBS, Mullingar; Coláiste Mhuire, Mullingar; Multyfarnham Agricultural College; University College Dublin (UCD), and the King's Inns. At UCD, he studied Agricultural Science, graduating in 1979, with a bachelor's degree and after graduation, with a colleague, formed an agricultural consultancy firm in Mullingar. In 1986, Penrose took up the position of advisor to the Minister of State at the Department of Fisheries, Forestry and Tourism, Michael Moynihan, resigning from the agricultural consultancy to do so.

Political career

Early days

In 1984, Penrose was co-opted on to Westmeath County Council, and a year later, he ran in the local elections, winning his seat in the Mullingar Lough Owel constituency by a margin of just six votes. In the 1991 local elections, he topped the poll in the Mullingar Rural Area.

Dáil Éireann: 1992–present

He qualified as a barrister in 1990, before entering into national politics. At the 1992 general election he was first elected to Dáil Éireann as a TD for the Westmeath constituency.[3] On that occasion the Labour Party won a record 33 Dáil seats, a feat that was surpassed at the 2011 general election.

In 2002, Penrose was a candidate for the deputy leadership of the Labour Party. Although he was part of a joint ticket with Pat Rabbitte, who won the leadership comfortably, he was narrowly defeated for the deputy leadership by Liz McManus, polling 1,636 votes to McManus' 1,728.

Minister of State: 2011

On 10 March 2011, he was appointed as Minister of State for Housing and Planning.

On 15 November 2011, he announced his resignation as Minister of State, due to his opposition to the government's decision to close Columb Barracks in Mullingar.[4] Penrose said: "I understand and appreciate that significant efforts were made by my Labour colleagues in government, who fully understood the depths of my feelings in this regard, to resolve this matter, but to no avail."[5][6] He also resigned the Labour parliamentary party whip.[2]

In February 2012, the Phoenix magazine contrasted Penrose who "eats at the PLP tables in the Dáil restaurant and is often seen chatting to Gilmore on the corridors" with two other backbenchers who lost the party whip, Tommy Broughan and Patrick Nulty, both of whom had been "banished" from the Labour parliamentary offices.[7]


Penrose rejoined the parliamentary Labour Party in October 2013.[8] He was narrowly re-elected to the Dáil at the 2016 general election, the final of just seven Labour TDs returned.

On 5 July 2018, he announced that he would not contest the next general election.[9]


  1. "Willie Penrose". Oireachtas Members Database. Retrieved 19 October 2009.
  2. Cullen, Paul; Minihan, Mary (16 November 2011). "Minister's resignation increases fears over budget cuts". The Irish Times.
  3. "Willie Penrose". ElectionsIreland.org. Retrieved 19 October 2009.
  4. "Penrose quits on barracks issue". The Irish Times. 15 November 2011.
  5. "Penrose quits Cabinet over barracks closure". RTÉ News. 15 November 2011. Retrieved 15 November 2011.
  6. "Labour's Penrose resigns from Government over barracks closure". Irish Independent. 15 November 2011. Retrieved 15 November 2011.
  7. "Penrose by any other name" (PDF). The Phoenix. 10 February 2012.
  8. "Penrose welcomed 'back into Labour fold' by Gilmore". TheJournal.ie. 7 October 2013.
  9. Mullooly, Ciaran (5 July 2018). "Penrose says he will not contest next general election". RTÉ News. Retrieved 5 July 2018.
New constituency Labour Party Teachta Dála for Westmeath
Constituency abolished
New constituency Labour Party Teachta Dála for Longford–Westmeath
Political offices
New office Minister of State for Housing and Planning
Succeeded by
Jan O'Sullivan
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