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Robinson, Mary (1944–)

Robinson, Mary (1944–)

Irish lawyer, feminist, and politician. Name variations: Mary Bourke. Born Marie Terese Winifred Bourke, May 21, 1944, in Ballina, Co. Mayo, Ireland; dau. of Aubrey de Vere Bourke and Tess O'Donnell Bourke (both doctors); Trinity College Dublin, BL, 1968; Harvard Law School, LLM, 1969; m. Nicholas Robinson, Dec 12, 1970; children: Tessa (b. 1972); William (b. 1974); Aubrey (b. 1981).

Human-rights lawyer and feminist who helped to advance the legal rights of Irish women and was elected the 1st woman president of Ireland, was 1st elected to Irish Senate (1969) and remained there until 1989; was Reid Professor of Constitutional and Criminal Law at Trinity College (1969–75) and lecturer in European Community Law (1975–90); introduced in senate 1st bill to legalize sale of contraceptives (1971); joined Irish Labour Party (1976); stood unsuccessfully for the Dail (1977, 1981); was a member of Dublin City Council (1979–83); introduced 1st bill to provide for divorce (1980); was a member of the New Ireland Forum (1983–84) and Advisory Commission of Inter-Rights (1984–90); resigned from Labour Party (1985); was a member of International Commission of Jurists (1987–90); was founder and director of Irish Centre for European Law (1989); was a member of Euro Avocats (1989–90); elected president of Ireland (Nov 7, 1990); became the 1st Irish president to meet a British monarch, Queen Elizabeth II (1993); was the 1st head of state to go to Rwanda after the genocide there (1994) and the 1st head of state to visit the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia; decided not to seek reelection (Mar 12, 1997); served as UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (1997–2002). Received European Media Prize (1991); Special Humanitarian CARE Award (1993) and International Human Rights Award (1993).

See also Fergus Finlay, Mary Robinson: A President with a Purpose (O'Brien, 1990); John Horgan, Mary Robinson: An Independent Voice (O'Brien, 1997); O'Leary & Burke, Mary Robinson: An Authorised Biography (Hodder & Stoughton, 1998); Michael O'Sullivan, Mary Robinson: The Life and Times of an Irish Liberal (Blackwater, 1993); Lorna Siggins, Mary Robinson: The Woman Who Took Power in the Park (Mainstream, 1997); and Women in World History.

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