Éamon Ó Cuív

Éamon Ó Cuív

Ó Cuív in 2015
Opposition Spokesperson for
Regional Development, Rural Affairs and the Gaeltacht
Assumed office
18 May 2016
Leader Micheál Martin
Preceded by Michael P. Kitt
Opposition Spokesperson for
Agriculture, Marine and Food
In office
July 2012  May 2016
Leader Micheál Martin
Preceded by Michael Moynihan
Succeeded by Charlie McConalogue
Deputy Leader of Fianna Fáil
In office
4 August 2011  29 February 2012
Leader Micheál Martin
Preceded by Brian Lenihan, Jnr
Succeeded by Position abolished
Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government
In office
23 January 2011  9 March 2011
Taoiseach Brian Cowen
Preceded by John Gormley
Succeeded by Phil Hogan (Environment, Community and Local Government)
Minister for Defence
In office
20 January 2011  9 March 2011
Taoiseach Brian Cowen
Preceded by Tony Killeen
Succeeded by Alan Shatter
Minister for Social Protection
In office
23 March 2010  9 March 2011
Taoiseach Brian Cowen
Preceded by Mary Hanafin (Social and Family Affairs)
Succeeded by Joan Burton
Minister for Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs
In office
6 June 2002  23 March 2010
Taoiseach Bertie Ahern
Brian Cowen
Preceded by Síle de Valera
Succeeded by Pat Carey (Community, Equality and Gaeltacht Affairs)
Minister of State for Rural Development
In office
19 February 2001  6 June 2002
Taoiseach Bertie Ahern
Preceded by Noel Davern
Succeeded by Position abolished
Minister of State for the Gaeltacht, Irish language and the Islands
In office
8 July 1997  19 February 2001
Taoiseach Bertie Ahern
Preceded by Donal Carey
Succeeded by Mary Coughlan
Teachta Dála
Assumed office
November 1992
Constituency Galway West
In office
October 1989  November 1992
Constituency Cultural and Educational Panel
Personal details
Born (1950-06-23) 23 June 1950
Dublin, Ireland
Nationality Irish
Political party Fianna Fáil
Spouse(s) Áine Ní Choincheannain
Children 4
Alma mater University College Dublin
Religion Roman Catholic
Website www.eamonocuiv.ie

Éamon Ó Cuív (Irish pronunciation: [ˈeːmˠənˠ oː ˈkiːvʲ]; born 23 June 1950) is an Irish Fianna Fáil politician.[1] He has been a Teachta Dála (TD) for the Galway West constituency since 1992 and used to be a member of Seanad Éireann.

He has had several ministerial portfolios in this time, including Minister of State at the Department of Arts, Heritage, Gaeltacht and the Islands, Minister for Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs and Minister for Social Protection. He was briefly Minister for Defence, Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government, and Minister for Social Protection in early 2011; this came about because of the resignations of Tony Killeen and John Gormley respectively.

He unsuccessfully contested the leadership of Fianna Fáil after the resignation of Brian Cowen, but lost to Micheál Martin. Martin appointed Ó Cuív Deputy Leader of Fianna Fáil after Brian Lenihan, Jnr's death. However, Ó Cuív ceased to be Deputy Leader of Fianna Fáil on 29 February 2012 because of his opposition to his party's stance on the European Fiscal Compact.

Early life

Ó Cuív is the son of Brian Ó Cuív, professor of Celtic Studies at University College Dublin, and Emer de Valera, who was the last surviving daughter of Fianna Fáil founder and former President of Ireland, Éamon de Valera, when she died at the age of 93 in February 2012.[2] He is a nephew of the former TD Vivion de Valera and is a first cousin of the former Arts, Heritage, Gaeltacht and the Islands minister, Síle de Valera, and of Judge Aindrias Ó Caoimh.

He was born in Dublin and was educated at Oatlands College, Dublin and University College Dublin.[3] Before entering politics, he was the manager of Gaeltacht Co-operative, a company involved in agricultural services including timber milling, tourism and cultural development.[3]


Ó Cuív's surname was changed from Ó Caoimh by his grandfather Shán Ó Cuív, a Cork journalist. In the early 20th century Shán changed the spelling of his surname to conform to a simplified spelling system of his own invention which he called An Leitriú Shimplí.[4] The letter 'v' is extremely rare in Irish outside modern loanwords, not being one of the 18 letters of the Irish alphabet.[5][6]

Political career

National politics

Ó Cuív first stood for election to Dáil Éireann at the 1987 general election, in the Galway West constituency, where he was the last-placed of the four Fianna Fáil candidates, only two of whom were elected. He did better in the 1989 general election, substantially increasing his share of the first-preference votes, but was the only one of the three Fianna Fáil candidates not to be elected.

He was then elected to the 19th Seanad on the Cultural and Educational Panel. He served there until the 1992 general election when he was elected as a Fianna Fáil TD for Galway West. His vote had increased significantly and he was elected on the first count, coming a close second behind the Labour Party's Michael D. Higgins. At the 1997 general election, he was again elected in second place on the first count, this time being narrowly behind his Fianna Fáil colleague Frank Fahey. At the 2002 general election he comfortably topped the poll, with over 20% of the first-preference votes. Ó Cuív again topped the poll for Galway West at the 2007 general election.[7]

In 1994 Ó Cuív raised a few eyebrows in Fianna Fáil circles when he argued for a conditional return to the Commonwealth of Nations as a gesture to Unionists in Northern Ireland.[8] However, a straw poll of backbench Fianna Fáil TDs in 1998 showed that this had little support.[9]

Ministerial career

Ó Cuív did not reach ministerial office in his first term in Dáil Éireann, but in 1997 (at the start of the 28th Dáil) he was appointed Minister of State at the Department of Arts, Heritage, Gaeltacht and the Islands, serving under his cousin Síle de Valera who was the senior minister at the Department. Following the 2002 general election he was appointed to the Cabinet as Minister for Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs.

He publicly spoke of voting "No" in the first referendum on the Nice Treaty. This public admission caused controversy as his party colleagues had called for a "Yes" vote.[10]

He is widely credited with responsibility for the Official Languages Act, which created the office of An Coimisinéir Teanga.

Ó Cuív was at the centre of a controversy surrounding the official name of An Daingean / Dingle, a small Gaeltacht town in west County Kerry. The residents of the town held a plebiscite in November 2006 to determine which version of the town name should be used. Ó Cuív originally signalled that he was happy to abide by the locals' decision, but then said that the name could not legally be changed back to Dingle, following advice from the Office of the Attorney General.

In 2007 Ó Cuív again called for Ireland to return to the Commonwealth as a full member state in light of the restoration of devolution to Northern Ireland and the meeting of the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association in Belfast.[11]

In July 2009 Ó Cuív used a government helicopter to open a playground, at the cost of €10,000.[12] On 23 March 2010, following a cabinet reshuffle, he was appointed as Minister for Social Protection. After the resignation of Tony Killeen in January 2011, Ó Cuív was also appointed as Minister for Defence,[13] and he was also appointed Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government after John Gormley's resignation days later.[14] On 22 January 2011, after the resignation of Fianna Fáil leader Brian Cowen, Ó Cuív stated that he wished to be a candidate in the resulting election for the leadership of Fianna Fáil. He confirmed this on the TG4 News.


Ó Cuiv was the Fianna Fáil spokesperson on Communications, Energy and Natural Resources after Fianna Fáil were ousted from power at the 2011 general election. On 8 August 2011, party leader Micheál Martin named Ó Cuiv as deputy leader of Fianna Fáil, replacing Brian Lenihan.

On 29 February 2012 Ó Cuív resigned as Fianna Fáil's deputy leader and Communications spokesperson. He resigned from these positions due to dissatisfaction with his party's position on the Fiscal Compact Referendum.[15][16] Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin stated that Ó Cuív would face expulsion from the parliamentary party if he did not vote with the party on the Fiscal Compact in the Dáil.[17] Coming just a week before their party conference, Ó Cuív's resignation caused a split down the middle of the Fianna Fáil party.[18]

On 12 July 2012 Ó Cuív was reappointed to the Fianna Fáil front bench as spokesperson on Agriculture and Food, and on Community Affairs.[19] The post of deputy leader was not filled in the reshuffle.

See also


  1. "Mr. Éamon Ó Cuív". Oireachtas Members Database. Retrieved 9 October 2009.
  2. "Emer Í Chuív passes away aged 93". RTÉ News. 9 February 2012. Retrieved 9 February 2012.
  3. 1 2 "Profile". Éamon Ó Cuív's website. Retrieved 22 January 2011.
  4. "O Cuiv – the spelling of my name.". Retrieved 19 July 2009.
  5. "Dáil Éireann – Volume 602 – 19 May 2005 – Priority Questions – Irish Language". Houses of the Oireachtas. Retrieved 19 July 2009.
  6. "The spelling of Irish". Universität Duisburg-Essen. Retrieved 19 July 2007.
  7. "Éamon Ó Cuív". ElectionsIreland.org. Retrieved 9 October 2009.
  8. Arthur Griffith, Brian Maye, Griffith College Publications, 1997, page 374
  9. FF TDs still wary of Commonwealth, Irish Independent, 30 November 1998
  10. "Ó Cuív quits as FF deputy leader over EU referendum". The Irish Times. Irish Times Trust. 29 February 2012. Retrieved 29 February 2012.
  11. "More calls for Govt to rejoin Commonwealth". Ireland online news. 15 May 2007. Archived from the original on 12 January 2008.
  12. O'Connor, Aidan (18 July 2009). "O Cuiv's chopper trip costs taxpayer €10,000". Irish Independent. Retrieved 19 July 2009.
  13. "Election date set for 11 March". RTÉ News. 20 January 2011. Retrieved 21 January 2011.
  14. "Ó Cuív and Carey get vacant ministerial posts". Irish Examiner. 23 January 2011.
  15. "O Cuiv steps down as FF Deputy leader over EU treaty". Irish Independent. 29 February 2012. Retrieved 29 February 2012.
  16. "O Cuiv quits as Fianna Fail deputy leader". BBC News. 29 February 2012. Retrieved 29 February 2012.
  17. "Éamon Ó Cuív resigns as FF Deputy Leader". RTÉ News. 29 February 2012. Retrieved 29 February 2012.
  18. "Donegal Fianna Fáil split as Ó Cuív resigns". Donegal Daily. 29 February 2012. Retrieved 29 February 2012.
  19. "Fianna Fáil reshuffles frontbench". The Irish Times. 12 July 2012.
Preceded by
Frank Fahey
Máire Geoghegan-Quinn
Bobby Molloy
Padraig McCormack
Michael D. Higgins
Teachta Dála for Galway West
With: Padraig McCormack 1992–2011
Michael D. Higgins 1992–2011
Frank Fahey 1997–2011
Bobby Molloy 1992–2002
Máire Geoghegan-Quinn 1992–97
Noel Grealish 2002–present
Brian Walsh 2011–16
Derek Nolan 2011–16
Catherine Connolly 2016–present
Hildegarde Naughton 2016–present
Political offices
Preceded by
Donal Carey
Minister of State for the Gaeltacht, Irish language and the Islands
Succeeded by
Mary Coughlan
Preceded by
Noel Davern
Minister of State for Rural Development
Succeeded by
Position abolished
Preceded by
Síle de Valera
Minister for Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs
Succeeded by
Pat Carey
as Minister for Community, Equality and Gaeltacht Affairs
Preceded by
Mary Hanafin
as Minister for Social and Family Affairs
Minister for Social Protection
Succeeded by
Joan Burton
Preceded by
Tony Killeen
Minister for Defence
Succeeded by
Alan Shatter
Preceded by
John Gormley
Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government
Succeeded by
Phil Hogan
as Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government
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