The Berlin International Economics Congress

An Interdisciplinary Analysis of the Roles of Global Politics & Civil Society in International Economics

(Berlin; February 4th - 7th, 2010)

Niamh Bhreathnach

Former Irish Minister for Education

Cllr. Niamh Bhreathnach served as Irish Minister for Education from 1993-1997. Throughout her career with the Irish Labour Party she has been a strong proponent of free education at university level. Her reasons for this include her belief that investment in human capital is a wise move, and that university candidates should be selected on the basis of their achievements rather than their financial background. During her term in office, third-level tuition fees were abolished, however the fight continues, and she is currently campaigning given the likelihood that fees will be reintroduced.

In addition to her post as Education Minister, Bhreathnach was also Teachta Dala, or Member of Parliament, for Dún Laoghaire from 1992 until 1997. She continues to work in  Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown County Council as a councillor since June 2009, where she is able to campaign for community issues.

Bhreathnach is pro-EU and actively encouraged the ratification of the Lisbon Treaty, after Ireland vetoed it by referendum the first time around.

She was born in Dublin, to Brendan Breathnach, a civil servant and collector of Irish music. She studied in Dublin and qualified as a remedial teacher before entering politics. Her outstanding achievements include being appointed Minister of her first day in the Dail, (The House of Representatives of Ireland) a feat which is shared with only four others.