Mary Harney

Reform, Innovation, Enterprise

Having retired from politics in 2011, former Tánaiste Mary Harney completely re-imagined her career.

Mary is now the director of a number of private companies in pharmaceutical, healthcare, technology and financial services sectors. She provides business advisory services to a range of companies and organisations. She also undertakes speaking engagements, particularly in a business context.


Chancellor of the University of Limerick

Biocon - Asia’s largest biopharmaceutical plc with its HQ in Bangalore, India –

Euro Insurances - Owned by Leaseplan Corporation and specialising in motor insurance –

Chair of Pharmed Ltd. - Healthcare service provider in Ireland and the UK

Diona Technology - An Irish headquartered technology company developing mobility solutions for the Social Security and Services IT market –

European Board of Vital Voices - supporting women leaders worldwide.

Brindley Healthcare - a company providing residential nursing and home care in Ireland

University of Limerick Foundation

Early Life

Mary Harney was born in Galway, studied economics at Trinity College* and was the first woman Auditor of the “Hist” debating society. After graduation she spent a year teaching mathematics and economics in Castleknock College. In 1977, her political career began when she was appointed to the Senate, becoming the youngest ever member of the Senate in Ireland. She continued to make history throughout here 34-year long career in politics.

Political Career

Ever ready to challenge the status quo, Mary Harney's entire political life has been characterised by a passion for reform, innovation and enterprise. After 17 years in government, Mary had reached the height of her career. She served as Tanaiste (Deputy {Prime Minister) for 9 years, became the first woman to lead a political party in Ireland and held many important ministerial portfolios. She was also notably the longest serving female TD (Member of Parliament) in the state's history.

Political Career Timeline
  • 1977 appointed to Senate
  • 1979-81 Member of Dublin County Council
  • Teachta Dála (Member of Parliament) for the Dublin South–West
    and Dublin Mid–West constituencies from 1981 to 2011
  • 1985 founding member of Progressive Democrats party
  • Minister for Environmental Protection 1989-92
  • 1993- 2006 Leader of the Progressive Democrats
  • Tánaiste (Deputy Prime Minister) from 1997 to 2006
  • Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment from 1997 to 2004
  • Minister for Health and Children from 2004 to 2011

Ministerial achievements

Minister of Environmental Protection

Her work in environmental protection led to major improvement in the air quality in Dublin city – she tackled the problem of smog in the capital by making Dublin a smokeless fuel city.

By founding the EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) she led a unified response among all 31 local authorities in their responsibility towards licensing and monitoring environmental standards.

Established the first recycling initiative in the country.

As Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment

During her 7 years in office, she promoted indigenous industry and foreign direct investment in the country and led many trade and investment missions to various parts of the world, working with both national and international companies. She worked particularly to enhance the presence of high technology companies both indigenous and international in Ireland.

Led a major drive to increase employment in Ireland through a combination of activation measures for unemployed people and improving incentives for people to take up jobs. Pioneered the first ever major programme of investment in basic research in Ireland through Science Foundation Ireland based on internationally peer-reviewed projects ( Established the Personal Injuries Assessment Board, avoiding unnecessary legal intervention and in turn dramatically cutting the cost of insurance in Ireland, notably in the areas of Employers’ and Public Liability and Motor Insurance. Strengthened competition law and enforcement and established an independent office for corporate enforcement (

As Minister for Health and children

Began the move towards a unified Health Service by replacing a number of politically-dominated Health Boards with the HSE.

Established an independent standards and quality authority (HIQA) to provide an independent inspector of the delivery of health services in Ireland

Led the reform of cancer services by consolidating them to 8 specialist centres. Which set the groundwork for continuing reform.

Established an independent standards and quality authority (HIQA) to provide an expert inspection and oversight of the delivery of health services in Ireland.

“Fair Deal” - a financing mechanism to deliver nursing home care for the elderly.

Reformed the regulation of the Medical and Pharmacy Professions, introducing statutory requirements to maintain professional competence. She introduced, for the first time, a lay majority on the boards of the Medical Council and of the Pharmaceutical Society.

Other Achievements

She won a number of awards as employment minister & for promoting science and innovation. Was President of the EU Council of Ministers during Irish Presidency. Is a Member of International Women’s Forum. Was the youngest member of the Senate and the longest serving female member of Dail Eireann (Irish Parliament). Was the first woman leader of an Irish political party and the first woman to be Tanaiste (Deputy Prime Minister). Was twice selected as Woman of the Year in Ireland.

Mary Harney, Independent Company Director, Business Adviser, Former Politician, Government Minister and Tánaiste.

Interested in working with Mary

Mary Harney, Speaking Engagements
Speaking Engagements

Mary speaks at international conferences on many topics. If you are interested in engaging Mary for a speaking assignment, you can
contact her here.

Mary Harney, Consultancy & Advisory Services
Consultancy & Advisory Services

Mary provides consultancy and advisory services to a range of corporate clients in the Healthcare, Medical Devices and Pharmaceutical Industry.
contact her here.

Mary Harney, Other Business
Other Business

She is involved in a number of charitable foundations and is a steadfast supporter of women in business and politics.