Ferm & Sth Tyrone
Michelle Gildernew is from The Brantry, County Tyrone. She is married to Jimmy and is the mother of two boys - Emmet and Eunan, and one girl, Aoise. Michelle is one of a family of 10 and was raised on a small family farm.
The Gildernews were leading members of the civil rights movement and were centrally involved in the campaign against discrimination in the allocation of council housing in Northern Ireland - a campaign which sparked the origins of the Civil Rights movement.
Michelle was educated at St Joseph's Primary (Caledon) and St Catherine's College in Armagh before continuing her studies at the University of Ulster, Coleraine. After leaving university Michelle travelled extensively in Europe, the United States and Australia where she worked for a year.
On her return in 1996 she stood for Sinn Féin in the Forum elections for Fermanagh/South Tyrone. In 1997 she was appointed Sinn Féin representative to London. While in London she was part of the first Sinn Féin delegation to Downing Street in December 1997.
She was elected MLA for Fermanagh/South Tyrone in the 1998 Assembly elections and has successfully retained her seat in the 2003 and 2007 elections. She has been a member of the party's Ard Chomhairle (National Executive) and has served on the Equality sub-committee and the Women's Forum. In the last Assembly she served as Vice Chair of the Committee of Social Development.
Michelle currently holds the hugely important position of Minister for Agriculture and Rural Development. In her role as a Minister, Michelle has tackled inequality and disadvantage in several areas of her ministerial portfolio.
Michelle was dramatically elected MP for Fermanagh/South Tyrone in June 2001, 20 years after the historic victory of hunger striker Bobby Sands MP. Michelle was returned as MP in 2005 with an increased majority of over 4,500.
Michelle has played a key role on the Sinn Féin negotiating teams leading up to the Good Friday Agreement, the St Andrew's Agreement and the recent Hillsborough Agreement.
Michelle has a particular interest in the Irish culture. She is a member of Aghaloo GAA club in Tyrone, enjoys traditional music and is a supporter of the Irish language. When she gets a chance, she enjoys spending time with her young family and her friends. Michelle also enjoys cooking and partaking in a wide range of outdoor activities.
Michelle is a keen Republican activist and a defender and supporter of women's and mothers' rights.
Tacaíonn Michelle GIldernew le próiseas na síochána agus straitéis Shinn Féin fa choinne Éire Aontaithe.
Profile based on information supplied by the party.