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About Seán

Published: Thu, 18 April 2013

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Sean Kelly MEP was first elected to the European Parliament in June 2009 for Ireland South, contributing to an historic victory for Fine Gael in the European Elections, polling 92,579 first preferences. He was re-elected to this position for a second term in May 2014.

In the European Parliament, he sits on the Industry, Research and Energy Committee and the International Trade Committee. He is a member of the European Parliament Delegation for relations with Iran and the countries of Southeast Asis and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN).


Sean is a member of the EPP Group, the largest and most influential Group in the European Parliament. He is also Leader of Fine Gael in the European Parliament; a role he was appointed to by An Taoiseach Enda Kenny in August 2014.


In his first year in the European Parliament, he had already authored 3 reports on the International Fund for Ireland, the Future of Transport and the European Year of Volunteering. He has since contributed to reports on the Future of Agriculture, the Innovation Union, the European Dimension on Sport, Combating Early School Leaving and Unlocking the Potential of Cultural and Creative Industries, amongst others.


He was the Industry Committee Rapporteur for the General Data Protection Regulation – the largest reform of data privacy law in two decades. He was voted 2014 MEP of the Year in the category of Digital Agenda for this work on data protection, cyber bullying and promoting Coder Dojo.


An extremely active parliamentarian, he is consistently ranked amongst the top MEPs in terms of speaking time and questions in Parliament.


Sean was voted by his peers as 2012 MEP of the Year for Research and Innovation.


Sean was elected President of the Gaelic Athletic Association in 2003, serving a full term until 2006. His presidency is seen as a landmark one in moving forward the Association on so many fronts – the introduction of Christy Ring Cup and Nicky Rackard Cups and the All-Ireland Junior and Intermediate Club Championships.


He also oversaw the completion of the Croke Park re-development through the completion of Hill 16/Northern end and the building of the Croke Park Jury’s Hotel. He introduced the President’s Awards and developed a great working relationship with the GPA and initiated major improvements in player welfare matters.


One of the watershed events during his presidency was the successful conclusion of arrangements for the use of Croke Park, the GAA’s 82,500 capacity national stadium, by the Irish Rugby Football Union and the Football Association of Ireland while Lansdowne Road was being re-developed.


This arrangement has now been made permanent as a result of a motion sponsored by his club, Kilcummin, at GAA Annual Congress in April 2010.


Sean Kelly was named Executive Chairman of the Irish Institute of Sport in July 2006. The Institute was founded following a key recommendation from the Athens Review, with the vision of providing World leading service provision to elite Irish athletes.




Sean has been the recipient of a number of awards that highlight his contribution to Irish society. These awards include:


Kerry Person of the Year, 2008


Conferred with an Honorary Doctorate by Dublin Institute of Technology, 2007


Earnest and Young Social Entrepreneur of the Year, 2006 


ESB/Rehab Person of the Year Award, 2005. For his courageous and stylish leadership of the GAA through times of great transition and during the Rule 42 debate in particular, Sean Kelly was awarded a People of the Year Award. Other People of the Year recipients include John Hume, Mo Mowlam, Brian Keenan, Veronica Guerin, Sir Bob Geldof, Senator George Mitchell and Meave Binchy.




Sean is the author of a book of memoirs, Rule 42 And All That, which gives an account of the his life in GAA administration, moving up the ranks from East Kerry, County, Munster and onwards to National level, becoming President of the GAA in 2003. It gives an account of the key role he played in the landmark decision to open Croke Park to soccer and rugby.


Sean is also a regular columnist with the Irish Examiner and regularly contributes to numerous, local, national and European publications, including the Kerryman, Foinse and the European Parliament Magazine.


Teaching Career


Sean is a teacher by profession. He graduated with First Class Honours in 1971 from St Patrick’s College of Education, Drumcondra, Dublin and went on to teach in Cromcastle Green Boy’s National School in Coolock.


He went on to attain his BA and then a First Class Honours H. Dip in Education from University College Dublin in 1975.


He became a secondary school teacher in 1974, spending most of his career to 2003 in his alma mater, St Brendan’s College, Killarney, Co. Kerry, otherwise known as the Sem.


He taught History, Geography and Gaeilge to some Kerry greats including Colm “the Gooch” Cooper, Tom Spillane, Seamus Moynihan, Michael McCarthy and Michael Fassbender.




Sean is married to Juliette and has four children, Padraig, Muiread, Lawrence and Julie.

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