Open main menu

Dame Rosemary Janet Mair Butler DBE (née McGrath; born 21 January 1943) is a British politician who was Labour Member of the National Assembly for Wales for Newport West from 1999 until 2016.

Rosemary Butler

Rosemary Butler - National Assembly for Wales.jpg
Presiding Officer of the National Assembly for Wales
In office
11 May 2011 – 11 May 2016
DeputyDavid Melding
Preceded byDafydd Elis-Thomas
Succeeded byElin Jones
Deputy Presiding Officer
In office
9 May 2007 – 11 May 2011
Preceded byJohn Marek
Succeeded byDavid Melding
Minister for Education
In office
25 May 1999 – 18 October 2000
First SecretaryAlun Michael
Preceded byNew post
Succeeded byJane Davidson
Member of the Welsh Assembly
for Newport West
In office
6 May 1999 – 6 April 2016
Preceded byNew Assembly
Succeeded byJayne Bryant
Majority4,220 (18.3%)
Personal details
Rosemary Janet Mair McGrath

(1943-01-21) 21 January 1943 (age 76)
Much Wenlock, Shropshire, England, UK
Political partyWelsh Labour Party
Spouse(s)Derek Butler (1966–present)

Serving briefly as Assembly Secretary for Education in the first two years of the Assembly, she was elected Deputy Presiding Officer of the Assembly in May 2007. Following her election in May 2011 Butler was appointed Presiding Officer of the Assembly. She did not stand for election to the Assembly in the 2016 elections.


Rosemary Janet Mair McGrath was born in Much Wenlock, Shropshire. Her family moved to the Rhymney Valley soon after. As a teenager she moved to Newport with her parents (Godfrey and Gwen McGrath) and brother John; there she attended St Julian's High School.

In the early 1960s she met her husband Derek Butler, whom she married in 1966. He was a lecturer in art and design at Newport Art college, which was at the time based in Clarence Place. They have two daughters, Kate (born 1968) and Alice (born 1970).

Local politicsEdit

In 1971 Butler joined the Labour Party. She was elected to Newport Borough Council from Caerleon ward in 1973, and played an important part in Labour administrations on the council as Deputy Leader and Mayor of Newport in 1989–90. She was Chair of the Leisure Services Committee for 12 years.[citation needed]

National AssemblyEdit

At the first Assembly election in 1999, Butler was selected as Labour candidate for Newport West which she won. She was appointed Assembly Secretary for Education: Minister for Children and Young People (up to 16) by Alun Michael but held office only for a year, leaving in October 2000 when the new First Minister Rhodri Morgan formed a coalition government. She was Chair of the Assembly's Culture, Welsh Language and Sport Committee and served on the Panel of Chairs. She led the British Council activities in the Assembly and also represents the Assembly on the European Committee of the Regions (CoR) where she is a member of the Bureau (executive) of the Committee.[citation needed]

Presiding Officer and Deputy Presiding OfficerEdit

Rosemary Butler at the Senedd

On 9 May 2007, Butler was picked as the Labour group's nominee for Deputy Presiding Officer of the Assembly, a position vacant by the defeat of the previous holder and which had to be held by a member from a different party to the Presiding Officer. Her election by the whole of the Assembly was not opposed. Butler was appointed the second Presiding Officer of the Assembly on 11 May 2011, following Dafydd Elis-Thomas, PC, AM.

Butler was appointed Dame Commander of the Order of the British Empire (DBE) in the 2014 New Year Honours for political and public services, particularly to women.[1]

Women in Public Life Campaign #POWiPLEdit

In 2012 Dame Rosemary Butler AM launched a campaign to address the need for more women to apply for and take up public roles and appointments. Her Women in Public Life campaign (POWiPL) aims to ensure that women are fairly represented at all levels of public life in Wales.

During the campaign, Rosemary has hosted many high-profile influential speakers at the National Assembly for Wales, most notably former Prime Minister of Australia, Julia Gillard to talk about gender equality and encourage women to put themselves forward for public appointments. She also launched a website; Women in Public Life Portal to enable women in Wales to search for public appointments.

In October 2014, Dame Rosemary launched a mentoring and development scheme for women who wanted to gain experience in public life and undergo training to help prepare them for decision making roles over a period of 18 months. The scheme is delivered by Chwarae Teg and Cardiff Business School on behalf of the National Assembly for Wales.

Personal interestsEdit

  • Honorary Fellow of the University of Wales, Newport
  • Co-founder and Chair of the Newport International Competition for Young Pianists
  • An Honorary Citizen of Newport's twin town Kutaisi (Republic of Georgia), and founding member of the Newport-Kutaisi Twinning Association
  • President of the Friends of Newport Transporter Bridge
  • President of the Wales Home Safety Council
  • President of Newport Harriers Athletic Club
  • Honorary Life Member of Newport Sports Council
  • Life Member of Newport Cricket Club
  • Founder member of the Friends of Tredegar House
  • Ambassador for Girl Guiding
  • Founder member of Newport Women's Aid
  • Member of Women's International League of Peace and Freedom
  • Patron of Caerleon Arts Festival
  • Chairwoman, Newport Women's Forum
  • Chairwoman, Live Music Now Wales


  1. ^ 2014 Honours List recipients; accessed 17 March 2014.


External linksEdit

  Media related to Rosemary Butler at Wikimedia Commons

Offices heldEdit

National Assembly for Wales
Preceded by
(new post)
Assembly Member for Newport West
Succeeded by
Jayne Bryant
Preceded by
Dafydd Elis-Thomas
Presiding Officer
Succeeded by
Elin Jones
Preceded by
John Marek
Deputy Presiding Officer
Succeeded by
David Melding
Political offices
Preceded by
(new post)
Minister for Education
Succeeded by
Jane Davidson
Preceded by
Member of the EU Committee of the Regions
Succeeded by
Christine Chapman