Joe Doyle

For other people named Joe Doyle, see Joe Doyle (disambiguation).

Joseph "Joe" Doyle (27 June 1936 – 8 August 2009) was an Irish Fine Gael politician.[1] He was a long-standing public representative for the Dublin South-East constituency. He served variously as a Dublin City Council, Dáil Éireann and Seanad Éireann, becoming Lord Mayor of Dublin in 1998–1999.

Political career

Doyle, a former sacristan in the local Roman Catholic church in Donnybrook, was first elected to public office as a Dublin City Council for the Pembroke area at the successful Fine Gael 1979 local elections campaign that laid the groundwork for Fine Gael's winning of 20 extra Dáil seats at the 1981 general election. He served continually in City Hall from 1979 until his retirement at the 2004 local elections. Between 1998 and 1999 he served as Lord Mayor of Dublin.

Doyle was first elected as a Fine Gael Teachta Dála (TD) to Dáil Éireann at the November 1982 general election, where his party constituency colleague was party leader (and after the election Taoiseach Garret FitzGerald).[1]

Broke party ranks on abortion

Doyle achieved early party notoriety when in 1983 he was one of eight Fine Gael TDs to defy the party and vote against the Fine Gael–Labour Party coalition's proposed wording to the Pro-life constitutional amendment on abortion. Whereas the government's wording included a negative prohibition, namely that nothing in the constitution should be interpreted as granting a right to abortion, Doyle, along with Alice Glenn and other colleagues endorsed the Fianna Fáil alternative wording that granted a "right to life to the unborn, with due regard to the equal right of the mother". Because of the controversial nature of the issue, and the fact that Fine Gael itself was split on the issue, he was not sacked from the party for breaking the party whip.

Winning and losing seats

Doyle was one of a number of TDs to lose their seats at the 1987 general election. He was elected later at the Senate election to sit in the upper house (Seanad Éireann). He regained his Dáil seat at the 1989 general election, where he and FitzGerald on a tight vote management strategy achieved 2 seats out of 4. He however lost his seat again at the 1992 general election to new running mate Frances Fitzgerald.[2] Though he contested the 1997 general election (under party pressure because it saw Doyle as the party's best chance to win a seat, even though he had originally decided not to contest any more general elections) he failed to win back a seat. Frances Fitzgerald dramatically lost the party's only seat at the 2002 general election, leaving Fine Gael for the first time in the constituency's history without a Fine Gael TD even though commentators regarded Dublin South-East as "natural Fine Gael" electoral territory.

Lord Mayor of Dublin

Doyle served as Lord Mayor of Dublin from 1998–1999. He was central to the decision to erect the Spire of Dublin, the world's largest sculpture, on the site of Nelson's Pillar.

On his retirement from Dublin City Council in 2004, his political rival, Labour Party Dublin City Councillor Dermot Lacey paid the following tribute.

I have long respected his integrity and commitment to achieving what he believed was best for the people he represented. In many ways Joe as a politician is the epitome of the historic mandate of Fine Gael- honourable, conservative, compassionate and committed to the democratic institutions of our State.


Doyle in public life openly discussed lifelong experience of battling with epilepsy, as a result of which he could not drive, normally a necessity for a local representative elected from a constituency.

Best man at Brendan Behan's wedding

He also revealed that as sacristan in the local church he had been best man at the wedding of Irish playwright and author Brendan Behan when Behan found himself without a best man at the ceremony.

Personal life and family

Joe Doyle married Margaret Mary Maquire on 11 February 1969 in the Church of the Sacred Heart, Donnybrook, Dublin. They had two sons and one daughter. Joe's step-brother, John Doyle (17 August 1925 – 16 November 2009), was also active in politics and was conservative Mayor and Bailiff of Hemel Hempstead in 1969.


  1. 1 2 "Mr. Joe Doyle". Oireachtas Members Database. Retrieved 9 August 2009.
  2. "Joe Doyle". Retrieved 9 August 2009.
Civic offices
Preceded by
John Stafford
Lord Mayor of Dublin
Succeeded by
Mary Freehill
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