Robinson, Mary

Mary Robinson (1944-) is a lawyer and politician. Born in Ballina, Co. Mayo, she studied law at Trinity College Dublin, where she became Ireland's youngest law professor when appointed Reid Professor of Constitutional and Criminal Law at the age of 25.

She also represented Trinity in the Seanad from 1969 to 1989, campaigning for the right of women to sit on juries, contraception and the ending of the civil service ban on married women. As a member of the Labour Party, she sat on Dublin City Council From 1979 to 1983. She played a prominent role in the campaign to save the Viking settlement at Wood Quay from destruction.

Robinson was elected Ireland's first female president in 1990. In her inauguration speech she said a new Ireland was emerging, one that would be more tolerant and inclusive. As president she worked on humanitarian issues and the peace process and lit a candle to Irish emigrants in the window of Áras an Uachtaráin. Robinson resigned her office shortly before her term was due to finish in 1997 to become UN High Commissioner for Human Rights and continued in this role until 2002. She has been the first female Chancellor of Trinity College since 1998 and runs a climate for justice foundation.