|Minister Gildernew in 2007|
|Minister for Agriculture and Rural Development|
8 May 2007 – 5 May 2011
|Preceded by||Bríd Rodgers|
|Succeeded by||Michelle O'Neill|
|Member of Parliament
for Fermanagh and South Tyrone
7 June 2001
|Preceded by||Lord Maginnis|
|Member of the Northern Ireland Assembly
for Fermanagh and South Tyrone
25 June 1998 – 7 July 2012
|Preceded by||Office Created|
|Succeeded by||Bronwyn McGahan|
28 March 1970 |
Dungannon, County Tyrone, Northern Ireland
|Political party||Sinn Féin|
|Alma mater||University of Ulster|
|Website||Michelle Gildernew MP|
Michelle Gildernew (born 28 March 1970) is an Irish republican Sinn Féin politician and former Minister for Agriculture and Rural Development in the Northern Ireland Executive. Gildernew has been the Member of Parliament for the Fermanagh and South Tyrone constituency since 2001 and was a member of the Northern Ireland Assembly (MLA) for the Fermanagh and South Tyrone constituency from June 1998 to July 2012.1
Gildernew has been a member of the Sinn Féin Ard Chomhairle (National Executive) and is the party's spokeswoman on Health. In the 2007-2011 Assembly she served as Vice Chair of the Committee of Social Development and was a member of the Committee of the Centre as well as statutory and ad hoc committees.2 Gildernew's family were leading figures in the civil rights campaign in the 1960s including events in Caledon, county Tyrone in 1968.3
Born in Dungannon, Gildernew attended St Catherine's College Armagh and later the University of Ulster, Coleraine. After graduating from university Michelle travelled extensively in Europe, the United States, and Australia, where she worked for a year. Michelle is married to Jimmy and is the mother of two boys - Emmet and Eunan, and one girl - Aoise who was born in October 2008. Michelle is one of a republican family of 10 from a large family farm in county Tyrone, shown on ordanance survey maps as Gildernew farm complex.2
On her return in 1996 she was the second placed candidate for Sinn Féin in the Forum elections for Fermanagh and South Tyrone but was unsuccessful.4 In 1997 she was appointed Sinn Féin representative to London. She was elected MLA for Fermanagh and South Tyrone in the 1998 Assembly elections and retained her seat in the 2003 and 2007 elections. While in London she was part of the first Sinn Féin delegation to Downing Street in December 1997.5
Gildernew was elected to Parliament in the 2001 election, defeating the Ulster Unionist candidate by just 53 votes. In 2005, Gildernew was re-elected with an increased majority of 4,582 votes. In the 2010 election, Gildernew held her seat with the smallest majority, just four votes. The Democratic Unionists, Ulster Conservatives and Unionists, and Traditional Unionist Voice all chose not to stand candidates, giving independent Unionist Rodney Connor a free run. Gildernew received 21,304 votes to Connor's 21,300, with the Social Democratic and Labour Party's vote halved with Fearghal McKinney trailing with 3,574 votes.6 According to The Times Guide to the House of Commons, she is popular across the sectarian divide in one of Northern Ireland's most polarised constituencies.7 Like all Sinn Féin MPs, Gildernew follows a policy of abstentionism and does not take her seat in the Westminster Parliament.
During her time as Minister for Agriculture and Rural Development, Gildernew has dealt with epidemics such as the outbreak of bluetongue disease. She has also increased cross-border co-operation with the Republic of Ireland on farming issues.8
In an interview with the Impartial Reporter, Gildernew defended businessman Seán Quinn saying that "He has been treated disgracefully by the Irish Government. Had they not tried to strip him off all his assets, including his home, deny him the ability to function in business, and routinely try to humiliate him I believe he would have paid back every penny he owed to the Irish taxpayer".10 Quinn, the former head of the privately owned QUINN group, was declared bankrupt in January 2012.11 The QUINN group was heavily exposed to the collapse of Anglo-Irish Bank and had a €1.2 billion debt to Anglo-Irish. On 30 March 2010, following an application by Ireland's Financial Regulator, the High Court appointed joint provisional administrators to Quinn Insurance Limited. According to the Irish Independent, eight subsidiaries of Quinn Insurance provided guarantees of €1.2bn to cover Quinn Group’s debts, prompting the regulator to seek the appointment of provisional administrators in the High Court.12 Sinn Féin distanced themselves from her comments with Mary Lou McDonald stating that the Quinns had engaged in illegal business practices.13
Michelle has a particular interest in the Irish culture. She is a member of Aghaloo GAA club in County Tyrone, enjoys traditional music and is a speaker and supporter of the Irish language. Gildernew has said that she enjoys spending time with her young family and her friends. Gildernew has also stated that she enjoys cooking and partaking in a wide range of outdoor activities.
Michelle is a keen Republican activist and a defender and supporter of women's and mothers' rights.14
- Dr Nicholas Whyte. "Fermanagh and South Tyrone 1998". Ark.ac.uk. Retrieved 2010-08-09.
- "Fermanagh South Tyrone Sinn Féin: Minister Michelle Gildernew MP, MLA". Fermanaghsouthtyronesf.com. Retrieved 2010-08-09.
- 1996 Forum Elections: Candidates in Fermanagh and South Tyrone ARK.ac.uk accessed 1 April 2011
- "Profile of Minister Michelle Gildernew | Department of Agriculture". Dardni.gov.uk. Retrieved 2010-08-09.
- "Election 2010 | Fermanagh and South Tyrone". BBC News. Retrieved 2010-08-09.
- The Times Guide to the House of Commons, Times Books, 2010
- "Consultations | Department of Agriculture and Rural Development". Dardni.gov.uk. Retrieved 2010-08-09.
- http://www.belfasttelegraph.co.uk/news/local-national/republic-of-ireland/sinn-fein-tipped-to-run-gildernew-for-irish-president-16046217.html. Missing or empty
- Edwards, Rodney (26 July 2012). "Sean Quinn: We are 'devastated' over son's jailing". The Impartial Reporter. Retrieved 2 August 2012.
- Keena, Colm (11 January 2012). "Quinn bankruptcy case set for Dublin court on Monday". Irish Times. Retrieved 11 January 2012.
- Maeve Sheehan (4 April 2010). "Industry captain’s ill-fated voyage on the sinking ship". Independent.ie. Independent News & Media PLC [INM]. Retrieved 22 July 2012.
- "Sinn Fein 'distances itself' from Sean Quinn". BBC News. 1 August 2012.
|Northern Ireland Assembly|
|New creation||MLA for Fermanagh and South Tyrone
|Parliament of the United Kingdom|
|Member of Parliament for Fermanagh and South Tyrone
|Minister for Agriculture and Rural Development