Mary Catherine Mitchell O'Connor (born 10 June 1959) is an Irish Fine Gael politician who serves as Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation. She was appointed to Cabinet by An Taoiseach Enda Kenny in May 2016. She has been a Teachta Dála since 2011, currently for the Dún Laoghaire constituency.
She was born in Milltown, County Galway. She graduated from Carysfort College and worked as a teacher. She was appointed principal of Scoil Cholmcille, Skryne, County Meath. In 1999, she became school principal at The Harold School, a position she held until her election to the Dáil.
In 2004, as a Progressive Democrats (PD) candidate, she was elected to Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown County Council. As a Councillor, she campaigned against the reintroduction of university fees, against the budget-related increase in pupil-teacher ratios. She also took part in the Sandycove Tidy Towns campaign.
In 2006, when the Maritime Museum closed, she called on the council to financially support it.
In December 2007, she resigned from the Progressive Democrats and joined Fine Gael. Welcoming her to the party, Enda Kenny said that it was "the first move by a PD public representative to join an alternative party since the general election". Mitchell O'Connor said that she "made a decision on how best to represent the people that elected me". In 2008–09, she was Chairperson of Dún Laoghaire Area Committee for Transport, Economic Development and Planning.
In June 2009, she was re-elected to Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown County Council. She was the Chairperson of Dún Laoghaire Area Committee for Environment, Housing, Culture, Community Development and Amenities. She has led campaigns to protect public amenities in Dún Laoghaire, including public access to the sea front, public transport, and she campaigned to prevent the acquisition of Dún Laoghaire baths by private companies. She has also campaigned against high-rise development which was regarded by many local people as inappropriate for Dún Laoghaire. In 2010, she led the Save the Sandycove Green Campaign against adding more parking spaces to Sandycove Green. She called for the introduction of higher standards of building regulations, in order to increase the quality of new buildings, at the same time protecting the environment.
In December 2010, she was selected as a Fine Gael candidate for the Dún Laoghaire constituency.
Mitchell O'Connor was elected as a TD for the Dún Laoghaire constituency at the 2011 general election. The newly elected Fine Gael TD surprised staff at Leinster House on 2 March 2011 by driving her campaign car across the pedestrian plinth in the Dáil car park and down the steps. The plinth has a ramp at one side to facilitate wheelchair access, but steps at the other end. The incident was witnessed by several journalists and was reported on by the RTÉ evening news.
On 8 June 2015, Mitchell O'Connor was selected by Dún Laoghaire Fine Gael as their candidate to contest the next general election at a selection convention. She defeated councillors Barry Ward and Maria Bailey, daughter of John Bailey. She came through and, after a delay due to talks on government formation, was appointed Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation in May 2016.
Mitchell O'Connor is an advocate for women's rights. In August 2010, she called for a reform of Dáil Éireann, so that women can work efficiently there. She currently campaigns for the eviction of men who are perpetrators of domestic violence.
Mitchell O'Connor turned the Leinster House pink the following Friday in aid of breast cancer.
She lives with her two sons in Cabinteely, Dublin.