Eileen Desmond born Harrington (29 December 1932 – 6 January 2005) was a senior Irish Labour Party politician. She served in the Dáil and the Seanad and the European Parlia-ment, and was Minister for Health & Social Welfare from 1981 to 1982.
Eileen Desmond was born in Kinsale, County Cork, and educated locally at the Convent of Mercy in Kinsale, where she was one of only two girls in her class to sit the Leaving Certifi-cate examination. Before entering politics she worked as a civil servant with the Department of Posts & Telegraphs.
Desmond was first elected to Dáil Éireann in a by-election on 10 March 1965, caused by the death of her husband, Dan Desmond, who had been a Teachta Dála (TD) since 1948. Her by-election victory caused Taoiseach Seán Lemass to dissolve the 17th Dáil and call a general election. She was re-elected for the second time in a year, but lost her seat in the 1969 general election. However, Desmond was elected to the 12th Seanad on the Industrial and Commercial Panel, where she served until her re-election to the 20th Dáil in the 1973 general election.
Desmond was a hard-working politician. She was elected to the European Parliament in 1979 European elections for the Munster constituency. However, her time in Europe was short-lived as she returned to domestic politics when she was offered a position as Minister and the chance to impact upon national legislation. At the 1981 general election a Fine Gael-Labour Party coalition came to power and Desmond was appointed Minister for Health & Social Welfare.
Her cabinet appointment was historic, as she was only the second woman to be a member of the cabinet since the foundation of the state in 1922. Countess Markiewicz had had held the cabinet post of Minister for Labour in the revolutionary First Dáil in 1919, but no other woman had held been appointed to the cabinet until Máire Geoghegan-Quinn was ap-pointed as Minister for the Gaeltacht in 1979.
Desmond retired from full time politics at the 1987 general election, for health reasons. She died suddenly in 2005.