Mary Robinson didn’t take Padraig Flynn’s controversial ‘family’ remarks to heart

Former President Mary Robinson has revealed in a documentary about her to be broadcast on Midwest Radio over Christmas that she wasn’t angry over a personal attack made on her by the then Fianna Fáil Minister Padraig Flynn during the 1990 presidential campaign.

A comment by Mr Flynn in which he accused the Ballina-born candidate as “having a new-found interest in her family” is generally regarded as having backfired and cost the Fianna Fáil candidate, Brian Lenihan, the election.

In a documentary, Mary Robinson – A Trust Well Placed, which will be broadcast on Midwest Radio on December 27, Ireland’s first woman president says she didn’t take Mr Flynn’s comments too much to heart and, in fact, felt a bit sorry for him.

She explained: “I had always tried to keep my family life private. I never felt a need to parade my children. They were too precious to me.”

“But after being nominated for the presidency I was told there would have to be publicity and the whole family were featured in Hello magazine and that is probably what Padraig Flynn was referring too. I almost felt sorry for Padraig afterwards but obviously it was good for my campaign.”

Amongst those interviewed by the presenter/producer Teresa O’Malley for the 40-minute documentary on the Mayo-born academic, barrister, politician and human rights campaigner are Mrs Robinson herself; former Labour leader Dick Spring; former Government Minister and MEP Gerry Collins; former MEP Mary Bannotti and current MEP Jim Higgins.

Mrs Robinson is regarded as having transformed the office of Uachtaráin na hÉireann and Ireland’s image internationally. Since stepping down as president after a seven-year term, she has since excelled on the international stage as UN High Commissioner for Human Rights and as a fearless campaigner for justice.

Mary Robinson - A Trust Well Placed will be broadcast on Midwest Radio on Saturday December 27 at 9am. It is part of a series of four programmes produced and presented by Teresa O’Malley, entitled Mayo Abroad, looking at the impact of Mayo people on the international stage, which has been commissioned by the Broadcasting Commission of Ireland (BCI ) as part of its Sound and Vision funding initiative.The other Mayo people who will feature in the series are; former EU Commissioner Padraig Flynn; missionary priest An tAtháir Padraig Ó Máille; and Foxford-born Noel Dorr, who gave immense service to the nation over a long and distinguished period as a diplomat.

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