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Statement from Fine Gael leader and Taoiseach Simon Harris on the Death of Mary Banotti

11th May 2024 - Simon Harris TD

It is with great sadness that I learned of the passing of Mary Banotti.


Mary was a talented politician, a trailblazer and a joy to be around. She was smart, wise and funny.


Mary Banotti served as an MEP for Dublin from 1984 to 2004 and was Fine Gael’s presidential candidate in the 1997 presidential election.


Mary was the eldest of six from Clontarf in Dublin. Her political career followed her early life nursing in London, the United States, Canada and Kenya. Mary was a former TV presenter and a co-founder of Women’s Aid, which opened Ireland’s first women’s refuge. She also served as chairperson of the Rutland Centre for Drug Abuse and her work in healthcare and women’s rights was evident throughout her committed and assiduous career in the European Parliament.  She also focused in on and put environmental issues on the European agenda long before it was the widespread thing to do and was named one of the top 10 environmental legislators in Europe. Another area she broke new ground was in her work supporting parentally abducted children in the EU, the first person to hold the official role.


Mary did so much with her life and had so much to be proud of, but she was humble. Her energy was boundless and she always had a nugget of wise political insight or a witty observation. Mary was extremely proud of her family. She was proud to be a grandniece of Michael Collins and proud to see her sister, Nora Owen, become deputy leader of Fine Gael. She was enormously proud of her daughter Tania and my heartfelt thoughts are with Tania, Nora and wider family.

Mary had a wide and diverse network of wonderful friends and Tania has shared with them her mother’s favourite quote from Shakespeare,


“That I account them blessings; for by these

Shall I try friends: you shall perceive how you

Mistake my fortunes; I am wealthy in my friends”


Mary wrote once that her mother grafted hard to put her six children through education, that she was highly ambitious for them and that she wanted her children to come out of the top drawer and make something of themselves.


Mary Banotti did that, and then some.


Ar dheis Dé go raibh a hanam dilis.

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