- Spring 2008
Sile De Valera was the youngest member elected to the Irish Parliament in 1977, representing the Fianna Fáil party. In 1979, she was once again the youngest member to be elected to the European Parliament. During her time in Europe she was on the European Parliament’s Deputation to Washington DC for five years.
De Valera has represented both urban and rural constituencies and served as a full Cabinet Minister in the Government of 1997 – 2002, with specific responsibility for arts, broadcasting, film, heritage, Irish language and the offshore islands. It was during this period that the Good Friday Agreement was signed and de Valera was assigned responsibility for two of the six cross border bodies which were established under the Agreement. In 2002 she was appointed Minister of State at the Department of Education and Science with specific responsibility for tackling disadvantage, and with particular emphasis on promoting adult and further education, youth policy and active citizenship.
De Valera was elected by the largest political party on the island of Ireland, Fianna Fáil, as its vice President and served in that capacity for eight years. She is the granddaughter of Eamon de Valera, one of the leaders of the 1916 Rising and War of Independence. He founded in 1927 Fianna Fáil, the Republican Party, in order to advance the democratic and parliamentary approach in Ireland. He was the architect of the 1937 Constitution, endorsed by the people of Ireland, which reflects the principles under which Ireland is governed today. He was President of the League of Nations, Prime Minister from 1932-1948, 1951-1954, 1957-1959 and President of Ireland 1959 -1973.
De Valera has a Bachelor of Arts degree in History, Politics and Philosophy which she undertook at University College Dublin between 1973 and 1976. She also has from that University a postgraduate qualification in teaching and education practice, and a further qualification in career guidance and counselling. She also has a postgraduate qualification in psychology.