Frances Fitzgerald is a Fine Gael MEP for Dublin City and County. She is a member of the ECON (Economic & Monetary Affairs) Committee, FEMM (Women’s Rights & Gender Equality) Committee and DEVE (Development) Committee. Frances also serves as the lead coordinator for the European People’s Party on FEMM.
Prior to her election to the European Parliament in the 2019 European Elections, Frances served as a Fine Gael Parliamentarian for over 20 years. She served as a Senator and T.D. in Dublin Mid-West (2007-2019) and has previously served as a Fine Gael T.D. in Dublin South East (1992-2002).
She most recently served as Tánaiste (2016-17), one of only four women to have ever held this position. She has also served as Minister for Business, Enterprise & Innovation (2017); Minister for Justice & Equality (2014-17) and was the State’s first Minister for Children & Youth Affairs (2011-14).
Frances has a clear record of delivering change and reform in Ireland stemming back to her education and early career.
Raised in Stillorgan, she was educated in Dominican College Sion Hill, Blackrock and the London School of Economics. She worked as a social worker and family therapist for ten years in Ballymun Child & Family Centre and in St. Ultan’s Children’s Hospital, St. James’ Hospital and the Mater Hospital. She has also worked in inner city communities in both Dublin and London.
Prior to her election to the Dáil, Frances served as Chair of the National Women’s Council of Ireland (1988-92) and Vice President of the European Women’s Lobby. She was also a founding member of the Women’s Environment Network – as it was known then.
Before Fine Gael entered Government in 2011, she served as Leader of the Opposition in Seanad Éireann (2007-11).
In 2011, Frances established the Department of Children & Youth Affairs. Frances also pioneered a number of ground-breaking reforms, including the comprehensive reform of the child protection and welfare system in Ireland. She enacted the Children and Family Relationships Act, which was the most comprehensive reform of family law since the foundation of the State. She oversaw the successful Children’s Referendum in 2012 and established Túsla, a dedicated Child and Family Agency. She introduced the Children First Legislation, putting guidelines on a statutory footing and led other major improvements on the promotion, regulation and enforcement of standards in early years and childcare settings. She also published the State’s first national policy framework for children and young people.
In 2014, Frances was appointed Minister for Justice and Equality, where she enacted 27 pieces of legislation. The Sexual Offences Act radically reformed the laws regarding sexual exploitation and sexual abuse of children. It also criminalised the purchase of sexual services. She initiated the Domestic Violence Act which introduced the new offence of coercive control and improved the protections available to victims of domestic violence by introducing a new emergency barring order. She signed the closure of St. Patrick’s Institution in 2017 and also established the Charities Regulatory Authority. She also initiated and launched the National Strategy for Women and Girls.
Frances introduced legislation for the holding of the Marriage Equality referendum. On May 23rd 2015, Ireland became the first country in the world to vote in a referendum to introduce an equal right to civil marriage for same-sex couples. In November 2015 Frances signed the Commencement Order for the Marriage Act 2015 which officially made marriage equality a legal reality.
She also led a programme of fundamental policing reforms, including a new independent Policing Authority to oversee the performance of An Garda Siochána and an expansion of the role and remit of the Garda Síochána Ombudsman Commission.
As Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation, she secured record funding in Budget 2018, established a Brexit Loan Scheme for small and medium sized businesses and worked to build new trading relationships and agreements abroad.
Frances lives with her husband in Castleknock, where she raised her three sons.