Caitríona Ruane (born 1962) is a Sinn Féin politician. She was a member of the Northern Ireland Assembly for South Down from 2003 to 2017, and served as the Principal Deputy Speaker of the Northern Ireland Assembly from 2016 to 2017.

Caitríona Ruane
Caitríona Ruane 2014.jpg
Ruane in 2014
Principal Deputy Speaker of the Northern Ireland Assembly
In office
12 May 2016 – 19 Oct 2017
Preceded byRobin Newton
Succeeded byChristopher Stalford
Member of the Northern Ireland Assembly
for South Down
In office
26 November 2003 – 26 January 2017
Preceded byMick Murphy
Succeeded bySinéad Ennis
Minister of Education
In office
8 May 2007 – 5 May 2011
Preceded byMartin McGuinness
Succeeded byJohn O'Dowd
Personal details
Born (1962-07-19) 19 July 1962 (age 57)
Swinford, Republic of Ireland
Political partySinn Féin
WebsiteSF election page

In the first Northern Ireland Executive under First Minister Ian Paisley and deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness she was appointed Minister of Education. She faced opposition over the scrapping of the Transfer Examination (11-plus) and her subsequent plans for a replacement. She was replaced by John O'Dowd after the 2011 election.


Ruane is a former professional tennis player who represented Ireland in the Fed Cup.[1] She now lives in Carlingford, County Louth and is married with two children.[2] In the past Ruane has acted as director of the Féile an Phobail and chairperson of the St Patrick's Carnival Committee in Belfast.[3]

"Bring them Home" campaignEdit

Ruane was a prominent member of the Bring Them Home campaign for the Colombia Three, which sought the safe return of three Irishmen later convicted in their absence in Colombia of training FARC insurgents.[4]

Abolition of the 11-plusEdit

Ruane has faced opposition for her support for abolition of the 11-plus examination, originally planned by her predecessor Martin McGuinness.[5] She has faced opposition from the Democratic Unionist Party[6] and Social Democratic and Labour Party[7] as well as from 30 grammar schools in Northern Ireland, causing them to form the AQE[8] (Association for Quality Education), which offered a replacement for the transfer examination.[9] She was alleged to have delayed the publication of a report which showed that public opinion favoured academic selection.[10]

In March 2011, Ruane caused controversy by claiming that all pupils should be given the opportunity to study the Irish language, that education in Northern Ireland should be made more similar to that in the Republic of Ireland, and that "the debate on academic selection is now over".[11] Director of the Governing Bodies Association, which represents Northern Irish grammar schools, John Hart, said, “I think the minister is fooling only herself in trying to convince us that the debate surrounding academic selection is over. Some 26,000 parents last year did not think it was over. As we have said in the past, the minister washed her hands of responsibility for academic selection, so she would be better letting those with a more responsible approach get on with it, instead of petty badgering."[12]

Policing BoardEdit

As at August 2015, she is a Political Member of the Northern Ireland Policing Board.[13]

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ Fed Cup - Caitríona Ruane player page
  2. ^ "Strategem NI – South Down". Archived from the original on 28 September 2007. Retrieved 2 February 2007.
  3. ^ "BBC News - NORTHERN IRELAND - Legal challenge to St Pat's Day funding".
  4. ^ "BBC NEWS - UK - Northern Ireland - NI cabinet ministers: at a glance". 7 May 2007.
  5. ^ "BBC NEWS - UK - Northern Ireland - Minister scraps the 11-plus exam". 4 December 2007. Retrieved 22 August 2015.
  6. ^ "BBC NEWS - UK - Northern Ireland - Ruane plans 'need DUP's support'". 15 May 2008.
  7. ^ "BBC NEWS - UK - Northern Ireland - SDLP hits out at new exam plans". 13 May 2008.
  8. ^ AQE Home Page
  9. ^ "BBC NEWS - UK - Northern Ireland - Ruane attacks 'elitist' schools". 24 April 2008.
  10. ^ "Delayed: literacy report that didn't back minister's views". Belfast Telegraph.
  11. ^ "Ruane: Teach Irish in every Northern Ireland school -".
  12. ^ "Selection debate isn't finished yet, insist Ulster grammars -".
  13. ^ "The Board". Retrieved 22 August 2015.

External linksEdit

Northern Ireland Assembly
Preceded by
Mick Murphy
MLA for Down South
Succeeded by
Sinéad Ennis
Political offices
Office suspended
Title last held by
Martin McGuinness
Minister of Education
Succeeded by
John O'Dowd