Polaiteoir Éireannach de chuid an pháirtí Fianna Fáil í Máire Ní Chochláinn (Béarla: Mary Coughlan, a rugadh ar an 28 Bealtaine sa bhliain 1965). Is Teachta Dála í, agus roghnaíodh í mar Thánaiste ar an 7 Bealtaine 2008 i gcomh-aireacht Bhriain Uí Chomhain. Rugadh i nDún na nGall í. Ba Theachta Dála de chuid Fhianna Fáil é a h-athair, Cathal Coughlan.
Mary Coughlan (born 28 May 1965) is a former Irish Fianna Fáil politician who served as the Tánaiste (Deputy Prime Minister) of Ireland and as a Teachta Dála (TD) for the Donegal South–West constituency from 1987–2011. During her career in government, she held the Cabinet positions of Tánaiste (2008–11), Minister for Health and Children (2011), Minister for Education and Skills (2010–11), Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment (2008–10), Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries, and Food (2004–08), and Minister for Social and Family Affairs (2002–04). She lost her Dáil seat in the 2011 general election.
Coughlan was born in Donegal Town in the south of County Donegal in 1965. Her father was Cathal Coughlan, a former Fianna Fáil TD, who died in June 1986. She was educated at the Ursuline Convent in Sligo – where she was a boarder from 1978 to 1983 – and at University College Dublin, graduating with a Social Science degree. She worked as a social worker for a brief period before becoming involved in politics.
Coming from a political family, Coughlan was always interested in politics, and joined a Cumann at the age of 16. At the age of 21 years and nine months, Coughlan was the youngest member of the 25th Dáil. The death of her father resulted in Coughlan being co-opted onto Donegal County Council in 1986 and launching her own political career.
In February 2001, Coughlan received her first ministerial position, that of Minister of State (Junior Minister) at the Department of Arts, Heritage, Gaeltacht and the Islands(with special responsibility for the Gaeltacht and Islands).
- Minister for Social and Family Affairs (2002–04)
During her time as Minister for Social and Family Affairs, she was praised for introducing large increases in Child Benefit and in pensions. Her work on the pensions element of her portfolio also saw her introduce Personal Retirement Savings Accounts. Coughlan also established the Office of the Pensions Ombudsman and provided additional funding and support for the State's Money Advice and Budgeting Service (MABS).
- Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food (2004–08)
In a 2004 cabinet reshuffle, Coughlan succeeded Joe Walsh as Minister for Agriculture and Food, becoming the first woman to hold that portfolio in the Republic of Ireland. foot and mouth disease from Britain – in early August 2007.
Coughlan was re-appointed to the portfolio on 14 June 2007 following the 2007 general election, with the additional responsibility of fisheries as Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food. Shortly after her re-appointment Coughlan had to put in place measures to deal with the threat of the potential spread of
- Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment (2008–10)
Following Bertie Ahern's resignation on 6 May 2008, Coughlan, in a cabinet re-shuffle, became Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment on 7 May 2008 by newly appointed Taoiseach Brian Cowen.
- Minister for Education and Skills (2010–11)
On 23 March 2010, following a cabinet reshuffle, she was moved to the newly named Department of Education and Skills, while retaining the position of Tánaiste. One of Coughlan's first initiatives in the portfolio was to voice her support for the introduction of a CAO points bonus for students studying higher level maths. She re-vamped the Student Maintenance Grant application procedure, streamlining administration and getting the scheme out two months earlier than in previous years.
- Minister for Health and Children (2011)
Following the resignation of Mary Harney in January 2011, Coughlan was also appointed as Minister for Health and Children. At the 2011 general election, Coughlan lost her seat to Independent candidate Thomas Pringle. Her first preference vote more than halved from 26.5% in 2007 to just over 11%. Her running mate Brian O'Domhnaill also failed to retain his seat, leaving Donegal South West without a Fianna Fail TD for the first time in its history. The loss of her seat was considered the most high profile casualty of the Fianna Fáil meltdown. The Guardian newspaper described it as "Ireland's Portillo moment". Coughlan will receive a lump sum of €237,000 with an annual pension of €140,000.