Mary Hanafin was first elected to Dáil Eireann as a Fianna Fáil TD for Dún Laoghaire in the 1997 General Election.
In January 2000, Mary was promoted by An Taoiseach, to Minister of State at the Departments of Health and Children, Justice, Equality and Law Reform, and Education and Science, with special responsibility for Children
She was re-elected to the Dáil in May 2002, taking the first seat in Dún Laoghaire as the top female vote-getter (per quota) in the country, topping the poll with 8,818 first preference votes.
in June 2002, Mary was promoted by An Taoiseach to Government Chief Whip and Minister of State at the Department of the Taoiseach (with responsibility for the Information Society) and as Minister of State at the Department of Defence.
In September 2004, Mary was appointed Minister for Education and Science
In the 2007 General Election, Mary was again re-elected to Dáil Éireann to represent Dún Laoghaire topping the poll with 11, 884 first preference votes.
In June 2007, Mary was re-appointed Minister for Education and Science.
In 2008 Mary served as Minister for Social and Family Affairs and in 2010 was appointed as Minister for Tourism and Sport and Culture.
In 2011 she was appointed Deputy Leader of Fianna Fáil and assigned additional ministerial responsibilities as Minister for Enterprise ,Trade and Innovation.
Mary was elected on the first count as a councillor for Dun Laoghaire-Rathdown in the local elections in 2014 to represent the Blackrock area having previously been a member of Dublin City Council from 1985 to 1991.
Born in Thurles, Co. Tipperary, Mary attended the Presentation Convent, Thurles and studied in St Patrick’s College, Maynooth (BA, HDip.Ed.). She holds a Diploma in Legal Studies from the Dublin Institue of Technology and was awarded a Masters in American Studies by the Clinton Institute in University College Dublin in 2014.
Mary is a full-time Public Representative and formerly a secondary school teacher of Irish and History at Dominican College, Sion Hill, Blackrock, Co. Dublin.
Mary is a daughter of Des Hanafin (Senator, 1969- 1993, 1997-2002) and a sister of John Hanafin (Senator, 2002-2011).