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Noël Browne

Noël Browne (1915–1997) was a physician and politician. 


He was born in Waterford and educated at Beaumont College, London, and Trinity College Dublin. Browne, whose comfortable family background was ravaged by tuberculosis, was informally adopted by a wealthy Dublin family following the death of his parents, and qualified as a doctor in 1940.

 

In 1948 he was elected a TD for the new Clann na Poblachta and became Minister for Health on his first day in Dáil Éireann. Between then and his forced resignation in 1951, when the medical profession and the Catholic bishops opposed his plans for a free Mother-and-Child medical service, he achieved a reputation as a forceful and visionary – if individualistic and unpredictable – minister, with a dedication to public health that was in advance of its time.

He remained in active politics, with some breaks, until 1982, in five different parties (Clann na Poblachta, Fianna Fáil, National Progressive Democrats, Labour Party, and the Socialist Labour Party) and as an Independent, but never again held office. Despite frequent changes of position – sometimes anti-communist, sometimes pro-Soviet – he became a lodestar for many on the left for whom the Labour Party (to which he belonged from 1963 to 1977) was an often unsatisfactory champion.

Against the Tide
By Noël Browne
€19.99
Standing by the Republic
By John Drennan
€19.99
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