|Assumed office |
20 April 2020
|Constituency||Cultural and Educational Panel|
November 2019 – February 2020
|Born||25 April 1974|
Gorey, County Wexford, Ireland
|Political party||Fianna Fáil|
|Alma mater||University College Dublin|
Malcolm Byrne (born 25 April 1974) is an Irish Fianna Fáil politician who has served as a Senator for the Cultural and Educational Panel since April 2020. He previously served as a Teachta Dála (TD) for the Wexford constituency from 2019 to 2020.
He was elected to the Dáil in a by-election in November 2019, only to lose his seat in the subsequent general election in February 2020. He was a member of Wexford County Council from 2009 to 2019.
Born in Gorey, County Wexford, in 1974. Byrne is the eldest child from a family of five. He attended CBS Secondary and Loreto and CBS Primary Schools in Gorey, later studying law at University College Dublin. He was secretary of the Kevin Barry Cumann while at UCD.
He was Head of Communications with the Higher Education Authority until 2019, and has been Vice-President of the National Youth Council of Ireland, the Union of Students in Ireland's former Education Officer and a former executive member of the European Students' Union. In 2014, he was named as one of the European 40 Under 40, in the European Young Leaders Programme.
When first elected to Gorey Town Council on the first count in 1999, he was its youngest member at the age of 25. He topped the poll again at the 2004 local elections. He was first elected to Wexford County Council in 2009 for the Gorey local electoral area, and elected Chairman following his 2014 re-election.
Byrne is openly gay. In January 2006, The Sun included his picture on the cover of its Irish edition beneath the headline "Bertie's FF Man in Gay Web Shame." The "Gay Web Shame" alleged by the tabloid proved on closer examination to simply be a profile on the dating website Gaydar. Byrne responded at the time: "I have not, nor have I ever, done anything illegal and I am not a hypocrite in any way. My views on gay rights issues are well known. I am not married with four children or anything like that, so there is no suggestion of hypocrisy." His family and political career suffered as a result and he was not selected for candidacy in the 2007 general election following this incident. Byrne later described how it was a journalist from The Gorey Echo had first approached him: "The first few questions were about roads. Then the journalist said, 'Are you aware you have a profile on this dating website?'" When he confirmed that the profile was his, Byrne experienced a sleepless night before being The Gorey Echo outed him locally: "I was ringing around people I knew and my parents were ringing around people... my grandmother didn't know and a lot of my extended family and my friends didn't know". Gorey Echo group editor Tom Mooney defended publication by saying he believed Byrne's behaviour to be "unfitting of a public representative".
Byrne was elected as a TD at the 2019 Wexford by-election. Andrew Bolger was co-opted to Byrne's seat on Wexford County Council following his election to the Dáil. His maiden speech was about housing solutions and the need to address the challenges facing Generation Rent. In an interview he said he could envisage a United Ireland where the 12th of July and Saint Patrick's Day were public holidays and spoke about how Ireland needs to ensure Unionists feel at home in a new agreed state and that may mean addressing issues such as Ireland joining the Commonwealth.
Byrne lost his seat at the next general election, on 8 February 2020, following what he called "a dirty campaign". His defeat after only 71 days made him the TD with the second-shortest term of service, after the Anti-H-Block TD Kieran Doherty, who died on hunger strike in August 1981 only 52 days after his election.
On 31 March 2020, Byrne was deemed elected to Seanad Éireann following the 2020 election to the upper house. He was named as Fianna Fáil Spokesperson on Higher Education, Innovation and Science in the Upper House by Taoiseach Micheál Martin in July 2020.
- "Cruel smear campaign by rivals won't beat me says gay FF councillor". Sunday Independent. 29 January 2006.
- "Malcolm Byrne". Oireachtas Members Database. Retrieved 5 December 2019.
- "Three out of four seats filled in by-elections". RTÉ News. 30 November 2019. Retrieved 30 November 2019.
- "Byrne wins place in Euro 'top 40'". Gorey Guardian. 28 January 2014.
- "Personal details". Fiannafail.ie. Archived from the original on 18 May 2015.
- "When Senator Malcolm Byrne's sexuality featured on the front of a newspaper, he knew his life would not be the same again, he tells Dónal Lynch". Sunday Independent. 27 September 2020.
- "Malcolm Byrne". ElectionsIreland.org.
- "Gorey's Malcolm Byrne is new chairman of Wexford Co. Council". Wexford Echo. 10 June 2014. Archived from the original on 16 November 2017. Retrieved 15 May 2015.
- "Out of touch". Irish Independent. 14 April 2007.
- "Billy Kelleher suffers shock loss in bid to become MEP candidate". Irish Examiner. 16 March 2019.
- "FF TD: United Ireland could celebrate The Twelfth and rejoin Commonwealth". Independent.ie. Retrieved 19 December 2019.
- "General Election 2020 Live results: Wexford". RTÉ. Retrieved 10 February 2020.
- Gallagher, Conor (10 February 2020). "Wexford results: Verona Murphy elected on 11th count". Irish Times. Retrieved 10 February 2020.
- "Labour hits rock bottom and the second-shortest serving TD ever: 6 election records made this year". The Journal. 11 February 2020. Retrieved 12 February 2020.
- "Seanad general election 2020". www.oireachtas.ie. Oireachtas. Retrieved 31 March 2020.
- ""There Is A Very Strong Fianna Fáil Team In Seanad Éireann And Our Range Of Spokespersons Reflect The Wealth And Depth Of Talent In Our Team." – Chambers". www.fiannafail.ie. Fianna Fáil. Retrieved 10 July 2020.