Conor Lenihan

Conor Lenihan
Conor Lenihan
Lenihan (2nd left) welcoming Lech Kaczyński to Ireland.
Minister of State
for Science, Technology, Innovation and Natural Resources
In office
22 April 2009 – 9 March 2011
Minister of State
for Integration Policy
In office
20 June 2007 – 21 April 2009
Minister of State
for Overseas Development and Human Rights
In office
29 September 2004 – 20 June 2007
Teachta Dála
In office
June 1997 – February 2011
Constituency Dublin South West
Personal details
Born 3 March 1963 (1963-03-03) (age 48)
Nationality Irish
Political party Fianna Fáil
Alma mater University College Dublin,
Dublin City University,

Conor Lenihan (born 3 March 1963) is a former Irish Fianna Fáil politician. He was a Teachta Dála (TD) for the Dublin South West constituency from 1997 to 2011, and served as a Minister of State from 2004 to 2011.[1]



Lenihan was born in Dublin. He lived in Athlone until he was 11 years of age. He was educated at Belvedere College, University College Dublin (where he was chair of the Kevin Barry Cumann), Dublin City University and the INSEAD.[2] Before his political career, Lenihan worked as an executive with Esat Digifone (now O2). He also worked as a journalist with the Dublin radio station 98FM.[3] While working in London he covered the House of Commons. Lenihan has also lectured on European issues as a member of the European Commission's Speakers panel.[4]

Lenihan was first elected to Dáil Éireann at the 1997 general election.[5] In Bertie Ahern's cabinet reshuffle of 2004, he was appointed as Minister of State at the Department of Foreign Affairs with special responsibility for Overseas Development and Human Rights. Lenihan restructured Ireland's international aid programme, creating Irish Aid, the Irish Government's programme of assistance to developing countries. Through Irish Aid, Lenihan administered a budget of almost a billion euros which is used to help developing nations thus continuing Ireland's tradition of reaching out to other post-colonial nations.

He served as Minister of State with special responsibility for Integration Policy from June 2007 to April 2009. In April 2009, he was appointed as the Minister of State with special responsibility for Science, Technology, Innovation and Natural Resources.

Lenihan is also the editor of The Nation, the official publication of the Fianna Fáil party.

Lenihan is the son of former Fianna Fáil Tánaiste Brian Lenihan, Snr. His grandfather, Patrick Lenihan, also served in the Irish parliament. His aunt, Mary O'Rourke, is a former Fianna Fáil TD and Senator, while his brother, Brian Lenihan, Jnr was a TD and the Minister for Finance from 2008–11.

Lenihan was diagnosed with a benign tumour in 2007.[6]

He lost his seat at the 2011 general election, with his first preference vote declining from 20.5% in 2007 to just 5%. He placed eight in the poll and was eliminated on the fourth count.[5] Lenihan now lives in Moscow[7].


Attitude to immigrants

Lenihan was involved in some controversy on 18 May 2005, when off-microphone he told opposition TD Joe Higgins of the Socialist Party that he should "stick to the kebabs",[8] a reference to the Turkish workers aided by Higgins who were being exploited by their employer, GAMA. Lenihan apologised in the Dáil for the remarks.[9]

In 2007 he banned Gardaí and Garda reserves from wearing the Sikh turban, saying "if we are to take integration seriously, people who come here must understand our way of doing things. When the President and Ministers travel to the Middle East, they accept cultural requirements of the country and the culture in which they are operating. It is a vice-versa situation with regard to Ireland".[10]

The Origin of Specious Nonsense

In September 2010, Lenihan attracted controversy when it emerged that he was to attend the launch of The Origin of Specious Nonsense, an anti-evolution book by John J. May. PZ Myers, on his Pharyngula blog, expressed shock that a Minister of State with special responsibility for Science would lend support to such a book.[11] Lenihan claimed that he was "not launching the book as Minister for Science but rather as a TD because Mr May is a constituent of his.[12] In the wake of this controversy, May asked Lenihan not to launch the book “because I am so embarrassed that the Minister for Science has been so insulted” and “eviscerated” on a political website.[13]


  1. ^ "Mr. Conor Lenihan". Oireachtas Members Database. Retrieved 8 May 2009. 
  2. ^ "Ministerial Profile". Department of Enterprise, Trade and Innovation. Retrieved 7 July 2010. 
  3. ^ Burns, John (14 February 2010). "George Lee: Another hack bites the dust". The Sunday Times. Retrieved 14 February 2010. 
  4. ^ "European Commission Representation in Ireland 2008 Review". European Commission. Retrieved 7 July 2010. 
  5. ^ a b "Conor Lenihan". Retrieved 8 May 2009. 
  6. ^ "Irish minister in TV tumour spot". BBC News. 31 January 2007. Retrieved 8 May 2009. 
  7. ^
  8. ^ "FF leader Martin in Chinese gaffe". Éanna Ó Caollai. 12 February 2011. Retrieved 22 February 2011. 
  9. ^ "Higgins reacts to Lenihan 'kebabs' remark". RTÉ News. 18 May 2005. Retrieved 19 June 2009. 
  10. ^ "Granting special status doesn't help integration". Sunday Independent. 19 August 2007. Retrieved 2 July 2009. 
  11. ^ "How about the Irish Minister of State with special responsibility for pseudoscience?". ScienceBlogs. Retrieved 13 September 2010. 
  12. ^ "Lenihan to launch anti-evolution book". The Irish Times. 13 September 2010. Retrieved 13 September 2010. 
  13. ^ "Minister withdraws from launch of anti-evolution book". The Irish Times. 14 September 2010. Retrieved 14 September 2010. 

External links

Preceded by
Eamonn Walsh
(Labour Party)
Fianna Fáil Teachta Dála for Dublin South West
Succeeded by
Seán Crowe
(Sinn Féin)
Political offices
Preceded by
Tom Kitt
Minister of State
(with special responsibility for Overseas Development and Human Rights)

Succeeded by
Michael Kitt
Preceded by
New office
Minister of State
(with special responsibility for Integration Policy)

Succeeded by
John Curran
Preceded by
New office
Minister of State
(with special responsibility for Science, Technology, Innovation and Natural Resources)

Office abolished

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