Frances Fitzgerald T.D. was appointed Tánaiste and Minister for Justice and Equality on Friday, 6th May 2016.
She previously served as Minister for Justice and Equality from Thursday, 8th of May 2014.
Prior to that, she served as Minister for Children and Youth Affairs from March 9, 2011. She represents the constituency of Dublin Mid-West.
As an experienced national politician, Frances has both the knowledge and experience to best represent the people of Dublin Mid-West at national level.
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. Frances has overseen the enactment of the Children and Family Relationships Act which provides for the most comprehensive reform of family law since the foundation of the State.
In 2014, Frances oversaw recommencement of Garda recruitment for the first time since 2009. 550 new recruits have entered the Garda College with 600 more to be recruited in 2016. Frances has overseen a substantial increase in investment in vehicles, with over 720 coming on stream in the period since the start of January 2015. This will ensure Gardaí can be mobile, responsive and visible in the community. Frances also secured an unprecedented additional allocation of €205 million to upgrade the Garda ICT system and technology and she oversaw preparation of the ambitious new Garda Building & Refurbishment Programme 2016-2021, benefiting 32 locations nationwide. Frances has doubled the funding for Crimestoppers and Community Alert. In October 2015, Frances supported the launch of Operation Thor, An Garda Síochána’s comprehensive new anti-crime and anti-burglary strategy.
Frances has been actively involved in delivering the Government’s comprehensive programme of justice reform which includes the establishment of the new independent Policing Authority; the appointment of the Garda Commissioner by open competition and the enactment of new legislation to reform and strengthen the role and remit and operation of the Garda Síochána Ombudsman Commission.
Frances has introduced the Criminal Justice (Burglary of Dwellings) Act to provide for tougher sentences for repeat burglars and is progressing a new Bail Bill to provide for stricter bail, increased powers for Gardaí and electronic tagging of offenders out on bail.
Frances oversaw a comprehensive work programme leading to the finalisation and enactment of the Legal Services Regulation Act, providing for unprecedented reform of the regulation and oversight of the legal professions and legal costs.
Frances introduced the Personal Insolvency (Amendment) Act to provide for independent court review of the ‘bank veto’ of Personal Insolvency Arrangement; and the new Bankruptcy Act to provide for a one year term of bankruptcy.
Under Frances’s watch Ireland signed the Istanbul Convention on tackling domestic violence. Frances published an Action Plan on implementation of the Istanbul Convention in Ireland and introduced a comprehensive new Domestic Violence Bill.
Frances has also introduced the Criminal Justice (Victims of Crime) Bill. This landmark new bill seeks to put victims at the heart of the Justice system by introducing, for the first time, statutory rights for victims of crime. This bill follows on from the establishment of new dedicated Victim Service Offices in every Garda division nationwide.
Frances has brought forward the new International Protection Act which will reduce the length of time the applicant spends in the system through the establishment of a single applications procedure. Frances is overseeing implementation of reforms to the Direct Provision system on foot of the Working Group report which she published.
Frances has overseen implementation of the recommendation of the Quirke report in full, including establishing an ex gratia scheme for women who entered and worked in such institutions and enacting the Redress for Women Resident in Certain Institutions Act 2015 to make provision for a broad range of health services free of charge.
Frances has worked at EU level, as part of the Justice & Home Affairs Council of Ministers to respond to the migration crisis facing Europe. Frances has ensured that Ireland is living up to its international humanitarian obligations by establishing the Irish Refugee Protection Programme to accept refugees under official relocation and resettlement programmes.
Frances has also worked closely with her EU colleagues to tackle extremism and respond to the threat of terrorism. Frances has introduced tough new anti-terrorism legislation and she secured funding for Ireland to implement the Schengen II information sharing IT system to share information on crime alerts and improve border control.
Frances oversaw the completion of a key Government commitment when the Court of Appeal was established in October 2014. Frances has introduced a second Special Criminal Court and increased the number of High Court judges in order to reduce delays. Frances has secured additional funding for the Courts Service in 2016 to increase staffing and improve courts efficiency.
Frances officially commenced the work of Ireland’s new Charities Regulator and she secured additional funding to enhance its staffing and operations.
Other legislation enacted or being progressed by Frances include the Criminal Justice (Sexual Offences) Bill; Assisted Decision Making (Capacity) Act; Spent Convictions Bill; Criminal Procedures Bill; Civil Debt (Procedures) Act, Prisons Act and Courts Act.
Minister for Children and Youth Affairs.
Between March 2011 and May 2014, Frances served as Ireland's first-ever senior Minister for Children and Youth Affairs. In this role Frances led a programme of comprehensive reform of child protection and welfare in Ireland.
In 2012, Frances oversaw the successful Children’s Referendum in which the people of Ireland approved changes to our Constitution to strengthen the protection and rights of children and to ensure equality for all children irrespective of their parent’s marital status.
In January 2014, Frances established Tusla, Ireland’s first-ever dedicated Child and Family Agency.
Frances also oversaw the introduction of new legislation to put the Children First guidelines on a statutory footing; the introduction for the first time of the National Standards for Child Protection and independent inspections of child protection services by HIQA and major improvement on the promotion, regulation and enforcement of standards in early years and childcare settings. Frances secured funding for the commencement of a €50 million National Child Detention Facility project at Oberstown, Co. Dublin.
In 2013, Frances introduced the ABC (Area-Based Childhood Programme), securing matching funding from Atlantic Philanthropies. Overall €30 million is being invested in projects in 13 areas across the country to support families-in-need and improve long-term outcomes for children.
Frances represented Ireland at the EU Council of Youth Ministers and in 2013, during Ireland’s EU Presidency; she chaired the Council hosting two Presidency events in Dublin: an EU Youth Conference and an Expert Roundtable event on youth employability.
As Minister for Children & Youth Affairs, Frances published and responded to the 2011 Report of the Commission of Investigation into the Catholic Diocese of Cloyne; and the 2012 Report of the Independent Child Death Review Group. Frances has been a keynote speaker at a number of major national and international conferences including: the WHO Global Conference in Helsinki in 2013, the ISPCAN 13th European Conference on Child Abuse & Neglect in Dublin in 2014 and the EU Equity Action Health Conference in Brussels in 2014.
Frances is TD for Dublin Mid West, having secured over 9,000 final votes in the 2011 General Election. Between 2007 and 2011 Frances served as Leader of the Opposition in the Irish Senate; having previously served as TD for Dublin South East for ten years before that.
As an opposition Parliamentarian, Frances served in six different portfolios under three different Fine Gael leaders - John Bruton, Michael Noonan and Enda Kenny. On her first day in the Dáil Frances was appointed as Fine Gael Spokesperson on Arts, Culture and the Gaeltacht and went on to serve as Spokesperson on Defence, Social Community & Family Affairs, Equality & Family Affairs, and Social Welfare. She served as Spokesperson on Health and Children while in the Senate.
Frances has served on various Dáil and Seanad committees including Justice, the Committee on the Constitution, the National and Economic Social Forum, the Forum for Peace and Reconciliation, Social Affairs and Health. Frances was a member of the Joint Committee on the Constitutional Amendment on Children and co-authored several Oireachtas Committee reports. She co-founded the first ever Cross Party Group on Mental Health and worked closely with Amnesty International to help break down the stigmas associated with mental health issues. Frances has campaigned strongly on mental health, special needs, social policy and equality issues and worked professionally in these areas.
Frances has previously served as a member of Dublin City Council.
Frances served Chairperson of the Fine Gael National Election Strategy Committee and has previously served as a member of the party’s Executive Council and as Director of Elections for the successful 2013 Meath East by-election.
Prior to her election to the Dáil, Frances served as Chair of the National Women’s Council of Ireland (1988-1992) and Vice President of the European Women’s Lobby. As Chair of the National Women’s Council she initiated and served on the second Commission on Women, chairing the Employment Sub-Committee.
She held the first conference in Ireland on ‘Women and Decision Making’ and championed the introduction of equality proofing mechanisms. Frances also led a number of high profile health campaigns. She has served on the boards of the Employment Equality Agency, Arthritis Ireland, The O’Reilly Theatre and the Breast Research Unit in St. Vincent’s Hospital. Frances was also Vice Chair of Europa Donna, the European breast cancer campaign.
Frances trained as a social worker and family therapist. She worked in the Mater Hospital, St James’ Hospital and Ballymun Child and Family Centre for ten years. She also worked in inner city communities in London and Dublin. She specialised in family-work including adoption and fostering.
Frances gained a B.Soc.Science in UCD and an MSc. in Social Administration and Social Work in the London School of Economics. She also lectured in social work in Adult Education Courses and in Trinity College, Dublin.
Frances is married and has three sons.