H.E. Dr. Mary McAleese

Mary McAleese is the former President of Ireland (1997-2011). Born in Belfast in 1951, she became the first person from Northern Ireland to be elected and the theme of her presidency was 'Building Bridges'. Mary's work for peace and reconciliation culminated in the historic state visit to Ireland by H.M. Queen Elizabeth II in May 2011. On leaving office Mary chaired the European Commission’s High Level Group on Modernisation of Third Level Education and returned to full-time education as a student  at the Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome, obtaining a Licentiate and Doctorate in canon law.

For many years prior, Mary was involved in social justice campaigning. She was a co-founder of Belfast Women's Aid, the Campaign for Homosexual Law Reform, and the Irish Commission for Prisoners Overseas, as well as Co-Chair of the Working Party on Sectarianism.

A barrister and journalist by training, Mary has enjoyed successful tenures as Reid Professor of Criminal Law, Criminology and Penology at Trinity College Dublin and Director of the Institute of Professional Legal Studies, Queen’s University Belfast. The first female pro-Vice Chancellor at the Queen's University of Belfast, she has also worked as a journalist in Irish radio and television and was a non-executive director of Channel 4 television.  

Mary currently combines several roles, including Chancellor of the University of Dublin and Chair of the Ansari Institute at The University of Notre Dame, Indiana. She is also Professor of Children, Law and Religion at the University of Glasgow.