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Saturday 25 November 2017

Mary's skill was always in demand

Niall O'Connor

Niall O'Connor

MARY van Lieshout received an unexpected phone call last year, during which she was offered a job she couldn't refuse.

On the phone was Michael D Higgins, a politician she greatly admired since they met in Cambodia in the 1980s.

The new President wanted Ms van Lieshout, pictured inset, for the job of his special adviser.

She agreed and later admitted that she was "honoured" and "thrilled" to get such a position.

The American national had previously spent three-years working as a healthcare professional in Zimbabwe, where she met her Dublin-born husband. She completed a masters degree in Trinity College before taking up a role with Oxfam.

She left Oxfam in 1998 and took up a highly paid position in the National Disability Authority.

She began working in the Aras in March 2012 on a salary of over €103,000.

The amount breached the pay cap for special advisors – but it was approved by the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform following an Aras request.

After leaving her job recently, Ms van Lieshout joined the charity GOAL.

She lives with her husband in Dun Laoghaire. She is widely respected for her work in research, healthcare and social justice.

Irish Independent

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