Róisín Shortall

Róisín Shortall (born 25 April 1954) is an Irish Social Democrats politician who has been joint leader of the Social Democrats since June 2015. She has been a Teachta Dála (TD) for the Dublin North-West constituency since 1992. She previously served as Minister of State for Primary Care from 2011 to 2012.[1]

Róisín Shortall

Róisín Shortall TD and Catherine Murphy TD
Shortall (left) with fellow party leader Catherine Murphy
Leader of the Social Democrats
with Catherine Murphy
Assumed office
15 July 2015
Preceded byNew office
Minister of State for Primary Care
In office
10 March 2011 – 26 September 2012
TaoiseachEnda Kenny
Preceded byNew office
Succeeded byAlex White
Teachta Dála
Assumed office
November 1992
ConstituencyDublin North-West
Personal details
Born (1954-04-25) 25 April 1954 (age 65)
Drumcondra, Dublin, Ireland
Political partySocial Democrats
Other political
Independent (2012–2015)
Labour Party (1992–2012)
Spouse(s)Seamus O'Byrne (m. 1989)
Alma mater

A member of the Labour Party until 2012, she sat as an Independent from 2012 to 2015, until she co-founded the Social Democrats in July 2015.

Early lifeEdit

Shortall was born and raised in Drumcondra, Dublin. Her father was a Fianna Fáil Dublin City Councillor who had fought in the Irish Civil War.[2] She was educated at Dominican College, Eccles Street; University College Dublin, and Marino Institute of Education, Marino. She has a B.A. in Economics and Politics.[3] She worked as a teacher for the deaf before seeking public office.

Political CareerEdit

In 1988 she joined the Labour Party and first held public office in 1991, when she was elected to Dublin City Council for the Drumcondra local electoral area.

Shortall was first elected to Dáil Éireann at the 1992 general election, when the Labour Party won a record 33 seats as part of the "Spring Tide", a surge credited to the popularity of Labour leader Dick Spring. She retained her seat at each of the following four general elections.[4] She is a former party Spokesperson for Social and Family Affairs.

In 1999 she opposed the merger of the Democratic Left into the Labour Party. In 2002 she was openly critical of Labour Party leader Ruairi Quinn following a poor showing by Labour in the 2002 Irish General Election. Following Quinn's resignation from the leadership months later, she contested the open leadership position, but lost out to former Democratic Left member Eamonn Gilmore.[2]

On 10 March 2011, she was appointed as Minister of State for Primary Care.

Fianna Fáil and Sinn Féin tabled a motion of no confidence in Minister for Health James Reilly on 3 September 2012, after yet more cuts in the health service.[5] Shortall addressed the Dáil during this motion and did not indicate her support for him or mention his name once,[6] though she did vote against the motion. She resigned as Minister of State for Primary Care on 26 September 2012, and also resigned the Parliamentary Labour Party whip.[7]

Social DemocratsEdit

On 15 July 2015, Shortall launched the Social Democrats party along with fellow Independent TDs Stephen Donnelly and Catherine Murphy.[8] She was elected for that party at the 2016 general election.


  1. ^ "Róisín Shortall". Oireachtas Members Database. Retrieved 2 November 2009.
  2. ^ a b Lynch, Andrew (27 September 2012). "PROFILE: rebel who rejected her parents' political party and stood up to authority". Irish Herald. Retrieved 11 January 2020.
  3. ^ "Róisín Shortall TD". socialdemocrats.ie. Retrieved 11 January 2020.
  4. ^ "Róisín Shortall". ElectionsIreland.org. Retrieved 2 November 2009.
  5. ^ "Fianna Fáil and Sinn Féin table no-confidence motion in Health Minister James Reilly". RTÉ News. 3 September 2012. Retrieved 3 September 2012.
  6. ^ "Shortall delivers speech on motion of confidence". Irish Examiner. 19 September 2012. Retrieved 19 September 2012.
  7. ^ "Roisin Shortall resigns as junior health minister". RTÉ News. 26 September 2012. Retrieved 26 September 2012.
  8. ^ "New Social Democrats group pledge to abolish water charges and repeal the Eighth Amendment". Irish Independent. 15 July 2015.

External linksEdit

Preceded by
Michael Barrett
(Fianna Fáil)
Teachta Dála for Dublin North-West
Political offices
New office Minister of State for Primary Care
Succeeded by
Alex White