Mary Patricia McAleese (born 27 June 1951) served as the eighth President of Ireland from 1997 to 2011. She was the second female president and was first elected in 1997 succeeding Mary Robinson, making McAleese the world's first woman to succeed another as president. She was re-elected unopposed for a second term in office in 2004. McAleese is the first President of Ireland to have come from either Northern Ireland or Ulster.
McAleese graduated in Law from Queen's University Belfast. In 1975, she was appointed Professor of Criminal Law, Criminology and Penology at Trinity College, Dublin and in 1987, she returned to her Alma Mater, Queen's, to become Director of the Institute of Professional Legal Studies. In 1994, she became the first female Pro-Vice-Chancellor of Queen's University. She worked as a barrister and also worked as a journalist with RTE.
McAleese used her time in office to address issues concerning justice, social equality, social inclusion, anti-sectarianism and reconciliation. She described the theme of her Presidency as "Building Bridges". This bridge-building materialised in her attempts to reach out to the unionist community in Northern Ireland. These steps included celebrating the Twelfth of July at Aras an Uachtarain and she even incurred criticism from some of the Irish Catholic hierarchy by taking communion in a Church of Ireland cathedral in Dublin. Despite being a practising Roman Catholic, she holds liberal views regarding homosexuality and women priests. She is a member of the Council of Women World Leaders and was ranked the 64th most powerful woman in the world by Forbes. In spite of some minor controversies, McAleese remained popular and her Presidency is regarded as successful...
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