The real force behind Micheal's machine


A FORMER Fianna Fail national youth organiser, Mary O'Shea has a Masters in Local Government, and has lectured on public administration in the Department of Government in University College Cork (UCC). She is the daughter of Midleton retailers Tom and Mary O'Shea.

She met Micheal Martin in UCC in the early 1980s, after joining the local cumann, and canvassed for him when he ran for a students' union position.

The story goes that a secretary in the cumann encouraged Mr Martin to ask Mary out. She initially refused, but reconsidered a month later.

While Mr Martin started his teacher training, she took up a job as Fianna Fail's youth organiser in party headquarters in Dublin.

Having met in UCC, they later got engaged in UCC and also married in UCC.

Since then, they have experienced personal tragedies. Their son Ruairi died in infancy, and only last October, their youngest daughter Leana died from a heart condition in Great Ormond Street Hospital.

Sundays are sacrosanct in the Martin household with their three children, Micheal Aodh (16), Aoibhe (14) and Cillian (10).

Once a Fianna Fail activist, Ms O'Shea is described by some in the party as the "real driving force" behind the Micheal Martin political machine.

"She's a wife, tutor, adviser and counsellor. She is the one driving him on. She's not involved in the party or out campaigning. Her role is in the background and under the radar," one local member said.