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Against the Tide

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Noel Christopher Browne, (20 December 1915 - 21 May 1997), was an Irish politician and doctor. For more than forty years, Noel Browne's name was synonymous with political controversy. He was attacked as a dangerous radical; dismissed as a marginal figure. Yet he was frequently a solitary voice for humane and decent values in Irish life. Drawn to politics, he was appointed Minister for Health on his first day in the Dail at the age of thirty three. His single-minded campaign for reform of the health system, especially the Mother and Child Scheme of 1951, encountered the strenuous opposition of both the Catholic Church and the medical establishment. Abandoned by his party colleagues, he embarked on a stormy political career over the following thirty years. Well known but at times highly controversial public representative, Browne managed to be a TD for five different political parties (two of which he co-founded): Clann na Poblachta (resigned), Fianna Fail (expelled), National Progressive Democrats (co-founder), Labour Party (resigned) and the Socialist Labour Party (co-founder). For nearly forty years, Noel Browne's name has been synonymous with political controversy. He was idolised by his supporters; demonised by those who opposed him. In 1990 a number of left wing representatives within the Labour Party, led by Michael D. Higgins, approached Browne and suggested that he should be the party's candidate fot the 1990 presidential election due later that year. Though in failing health Browne agreed. However, the leadership had secretly decided to run former senator and barrister Mary Robinson, later elected the seventh President of Ireland.

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