Mary McAleese

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Mary McAleese
8th President of the Republic of Ireland
Term of office
1997 - 2011
Political party Fianna Fáil
Preceded by Mary Robinson
Succeeded by Michael D. Higgins
Born 21 June 1951
Belfast, Northern Ireland
Spouse Martin McAleese
Religion Roman Catholic

Mary McAleese (born 21 June 1951 in Belfast, Northern Ireland) is a former President of Ireland. She won her first election in 1997 with 58.7% of the vote, succeeding the first female President of Ireland, Mary Robinson. McAleese's succession was the first time in history that a female head of state had been replaced with another woman. When the time came for her first term to end in 2004, McAleese found herself running for re-election uncontested, and was duly re-inaugurated later that year.

McAleese is a qualified lawyer and worked in the state broadcast company RTE in the 1980s. She was nominated to run for the presidency by Fianna Fáil in 1997. During the campaign she was criticized heavily by journalist Eoghan Harris because of her Northern Irish nationalist background. Harris said she would prove to be a "tribal time bomb". She won the election and promised to "build bridges" with Northern Irish Unionists. Her efforts have been credited with helping to achieve peace in Northern Ireland. She is the first person born in Northern Ireland to become President of the Republic.

As President, she attracted some controversy with a speech she made comparing Protestants in Northern Ireland with Nazis, for which she later apologized. This incident notwithstanding, she remained popular throughout her tenure as president.

McAleese, is a dissident Catholic who is an outspoken supporter of homosexuality and women priests. [1]