Senator Mark Daly, 24th Cathaoirleach of Seanad Éireann Chair of the Senate of Ireland
Mark Daly was elected as the 24th Cathaoirleach of Seanad Éireann on June 29th 2020 by his fellow Senators. He is the first Kerryman, youngest Senator from his party and second youngest individual to hold the office. In 2017 Mark published the first ever report by a Dáil or Seanad Committee on the issue of Uniting Ireland and it's people in peace and prosperity. This Report was followed by a further five reports on the topic of a United Ireland which can be accessed at the Shared Ireland section of this site. In 2013 Mark asked Micheál Martin to appoint him to the position of of spokesperson for the Irish Overseas and the Diaspora. It was the first time a member of the Dáil or Seanad was appointed to such a position.
Political Journey Mark was first elected as one of the youngest members of the 23rd Irish Senate in the 2007 election beating three incumbent Party Senators on the first count. Although Mark had never previously contested any elected office, he had been actively involved in community and local politics since secondary school. Following the success of his first term as a Senator, he was re-elected in 2011 and in 2016 he received 184,000 votes, the highest number of votes for any candidate in the history of the Senate on that Panel. As mentioned above, on June 29th Mark was elected to the office of Cathaoirleach of Seanad Éireann. This appointment followed another highly successful Seanad election in 2020. Mark was re-elected to the 26th Seanad as a member of the Administrative Panel, receiving the highest number of first count votes of any candidate from any panel that year.
Before the Seanad Before being elected as a Senator, Mark worked on Election Campaigns to the European Parliament for Brian Crowley MEP in 1994. In 1999, 2004, 2009 and 2014 he was part of Brian’s Election Strategy Committee. At the age of 26, Mark became the Chairman of his local Gaelic Athletic Association, the Kenmare Shamrock Hurling and Gaelic Football club, which was founded in 1886 and is home to All Ireland winning captain Mickey Ned O’Sullivan. On being made Chair Mark led a redevelopment programme which transformed the clubs facilities to include a 32,000 square foot flood lit synthetic grass pitch with a sports complex, a basketball court, gym and dressing rooms.
Family Mark’s family has a long history of active citizenship. Going back generations his family were involved in the local community, in the Chamber of Commerce, Tidy Towns and various sports organizations. Mark’s grandfather and great grandfather were both involved in the struggle for independence. Mark’s mother Eileen is a long-standing activist in the local community, and is descended from generations of O’Connors and O’Sullivans in the Kenmare, Lauragh and Blackwater areas. Marks father Sean Daly is from Tralee, Co. Kerry and is a recognised local athlete, sportsman and a great organiser. Mark’s Grandfather, Charlie Daly served during the War of Independence & Civil War. Charlie was a member of Currans Company, 2nd Battalion, Kerry No. 2 Brigade IRA. Commandant General Charlie Daly, Mark’s cousin, was one of the 77 executed during the tragic Irish Civil War. He was shot at dawn in Drumboe, Co. Donegal on the 14th March 1923 along with Sean Larkin, Tim O’Sullivan and Daniel Enright. Commandant Charlie’s sister May was always involved in politics in Kerry and ran for election in the 1950s. She features in the slideshow below, unveiling the Ballyseedy Monument near Tralee, County Kerry . The Daly tradition of service in the armed forces continued with Mark’s uncle Austin who was a member of the FCA for many years. In 1989, Mark joined the local FCA Unit in Kenmare.
On Mark’s mother’s side of the family there is a family legend that Mark is related to a General in George Washington Army. The back story: Born in Somersworth in 1740, John Sullivan was the third son of Irish settlers from County Kerry. His father was a schoolmaster. Sullivan studied law under Samuel Livermore of Portsmouth and opened his own practice in 1763 in Berwick, Maine. He moved his practice to Durham in 1764, where he built a friendship with John Wentworth, the royal governor of New Hampshire. Wentworth appointed Sullivan a major in the militia, where he eventually sided with the revolutionary cause. As the war neared, George Washington was appointed commander in chief and several others, including Sullivan, were named generals. After the British evacuated Boston in the spring of 1776, Washington sent Sullivan north to replace the fallen John Thomas as commander in Quebec. Sullivan took command of the faltering invasion force, sent some of those forces on an unsuccessful counterattack against the British at Trois-Rivières and withdrew the survivors to Crown Point. This led to the first of several controversies between Congress and Gen. Sullivan, as they sought a scapegoat for the failed invasion of Canada. He was eventually exonerated and promoted to major general in August 1776. He went on to distinguish himself in several battles, before returning to the practice of law in Durham. He was named the state’s attorney general in 1782 and served until 1786. During this same time, he was elected to the state assembly and served as speaker of the house. He led the drive in New Hampshire that ended with the ratification of the U.S. Constitution on June 21, 1788. He was elected president of New Hampshire (now governor) in 1786, 1787 and 1789. Mark’s mother Eileen is very involved in the community and for decades has been a key part of the Tidy Towns effort and has passed that on to her children and grandchildren, especially my niece Lucy Daly.
Education Mark attended local Secondary School Holy Cross College, during which time he led the organisation of the 75th anniversary of the 1916 Rising Celebrations in Kenmare. Holy Cross College. Mark also holds a Diploma in Property Valuation from Dublin Institute of Technology and a B.Sc. in Estate Management from Greenwich University, London. In 2011 he completed a Senior Management Program at Harvard University. In January 2015 he attended Boston College’s ‘Irish Institute’ and completed a program in Political Leadership: The Parliamentary and Legislative Process.