Frances was elected as T.D. for Dublin Mid West in 2011 to serve in the 31st Dail. Frances received over 9,000 final votes. Upon her election Frances was appointed Ireland's first ever Minister for Children. Frances was also Leader of the Opposition in the Senate on her election as a Senator to the 23rd Seanad and previously served as T.D. for Dublin South East for ten years. She gained a B.Soc. Science in U.C.D. and an M.SC. in Social Administration and Social Work in the London School of Economics. Prior to her election to the Dail Frances was a high profile Chair of the National Women’s Council of Ireland (1988-1992) and Vice President of the European Women’s Lobby.
As Chair of the National Women’s Council she initiated and served on the second Commission on Women, chairing the Employment Sub-Committee. She held the first conference on Women and Decision Making and championed the cause of introducing equality proofing mechanisms. Frances also led a number of high profile health campaigns. She has served on the boards of the Employment Equality Agency, Arthritis Ireland, The O’Reilly Theatre and the Breast Research Unit in St. Vincent’s Hospital. Frances was also Vice Chair of Europa Donna, the European breast cancer campaign.
Frances trained as a social worker and family therapist. She worked in the Mater Hospital, St James’ Hospital and Ballymun Child and Family Centre for ten years. She also worked in inner city communities in London and Dublin. She specialised in family-work including adoption and fostering. She also lectured in social work in Adult Education Courses and in Trinity College, Dublin.
Since her first election to the Dail, Frances has been appointed to six different portfolios under three different Fine Gael leaders - John Bruton, Michael Noonan and Enda Kenny. On her first day in the Dail Frances was appointed to the Fine Gael front bench as Spokesperson on Arts, Culture and theGaeltacht and went on to serve as Spokesperson on Defence, Social Community & Family Affairs, Equality & Family Affairs, Social Welfare and served as Spokesperson Health and Children in the Senate.
Frances has served on various Dail and Seanad committees including Justice, Health, the Committee on the Constitution, the National and Economic Social Forum, the Forum for Peace and Reconciliation, Social Affairs and Health. Frances was also a member of the Joint Committee on the Constitutional Amendment on Children and co-authored several Oireachtas Committee reports. She recently co-founded the first ever Cross Party Group on Mental Health and worked closely with Amnesty International to help break down the stigmas associated with mental health issues. Frances has campaigned strongly on mental health, special needs, social policy and equality issues and worked professionally in these areas.
Frances is married and has three sons in their twenties, an actor, a trainee accountant and a student.