|Official photograph from Líadáin Síomha's inauguration, 2017.|
|1st Taoiseach of tir Lhaeriadd|
Assumed office |
17th April 2017
|Preceded by||Office Established|
|Born|| Líadáin Síomha|
July 21, 1966
Aurharbwr, tir Lhaeraidd
|Political party||Blaengar Rhyddfrydol|
|Domestic partner||Eoghan Uthyr|
|Children||Syra Síomha, Ban Uthyr|
|Alma mater||Teyrn's College, University of Neuaddduwiau|
|Profession||Education and Developmental Theorist|
Líadáin Síomha (pronounced: /ˈlʲiːədˠaːnʲ ˈʃiːṽə/, born 21 July 1966) is a Lhaeraidh politician who has served as Taoiseach of tir Lhaeraidd since 17th April 2017. She is notably the first democratically elected Head of Government in Lhaeraidh history and as such holds the distinctions of being its first Taoiseach and first female Head of Government. She also serves as Aelod Seneddol Aurharbwr West and Coast constituency, a position also gained in the 2017 General Election. She was the leader of the Blaengar Rhyddfrydol (Liberal Progressive) faction during the Constitutional Reform Project, and is a former member of the Bonedd, and subsequently became the party leader when this faction formed itself into a political party following the implementation of the constitutional reforms.
Síomha's father was a Head Teacher at the local Grammar School and her mother was a respected journalist and social commentator. She grew up in the Llangfy district of Aurharbwr, tir Lhaeraidd's largest city. She worked for the National Education Authority as a consultant and then as an educational policy advisor from 1989 until 2012, when she accepted the Chairmanship of the Committee for Educational Development. In 1998, she became a member of the Bonedd after funding to pay for her tithe was provided by a collection of leading liberal interests. During the Preliminary Constitutional Reform Project, Conjectural Procedures, and the Constitutional Reform Project in 2002, 2005, and 2017 respectively, she was the head of the Liberal Committee in the Bonedd and later became head of Blaengar Rhyddfrydol.
After the formalization of Blaengar Rhyddfrydol into an organized faction within the Bonedd, in 1999, Síomha became a prominent figure in Lhaeraidh politics and government, principally championing the need for education and welfare reforms. In 2007 she was unanimously elected to become Chairman by the faction; this was followed in 2012 with her election as leader of the faction, a role which became Party Leader in 2017 when the Constitutional Reforms were implemented, which allowed Blaengar Rhyddfrydol to make the transition from Bonedd faction to an official political party.
In 2015 Síomha was selected by the Chancellor, Cerwyn mab Tiernan, to serve as Minister for Education, and she became the first woman to accept the role. During her tenure she oversaw a series of reforms in the way mental health is handled in schools and how children are educated on the dangers of drugs, tobacco, and alcohol; as a result, she has come under criticism, most notably from among the more conservative elements within government and the Bonedd. Síomha also oversaw the softening of laws relating to the discipline of children in education and reformed the way in which children with diagnosed learning and developmental disabilities are treated.
Early life and education
Born on 21 July 1966 at Morridh Hospital in the Llangfy district of Aurharbwr, Síomha is the eldest of three children of Penwyn Haerhe (1910-2009) and Graihne Síomha (1915-2016). Her father was a former Lecturer at the University of Aurharbwr and a Head Teacher at the Llangfy Grammar School, a job he held throughout her childhood. Her mother was a journalist, working for the Llais Aurharbwr newspaper, who worked from home and authored a number of well-regarded books on the politics and social commentary of tir Lhaeraidd.
Síomha was educated principally at the local religious school; most notably at St. Aedan's Primary from 1971 to 1977 and then attended the Caer Gomernh Grammar School in the neighbouring district after achieving a classification of 'Academic/Philosophical' in her 11+ Examinations. Her early education followed the 'Skills and Vocational' program of the time and she received generally good reports for behavior and intellect with somewhat poorer reports in sports.
In 1983 Síomha won a place at Teyrn's College, at the University of Neuaddduwaiu, one of the world's foremost universities, and studied Developmental Psychology and Education. She spent six years studying at the university and graduated with a 1st in 1988 and was offered a role as a Junior Professor at the University of Aurharbwr.
Between 1988 and 1992 Síomha worked as a Junior Professor in the Education department at the University of Aurharbwr, though from 1989 on she primarily worked as a consultant to the government through the National Education Authority despite officially remaining a member of the faculty. In 2012, at the age of 45, she was offered the chairmanship of the Committee for Educational Development, the body within the NEA responsible for educational reforms; a position she accepted, becoming the youngest person to hold the Chairmanship since the establishment of the Committee in 1918.
During her tenure as a Junior Professor at the UA Síomha co-authored 'Development of the Modern Child' and 'The New Fundamentals of Education Within a Liberal Society' with fellow faculty member Eoghan Uthyr, whom she would marry in 1990. These two books entered the essential reading for those studying to become teachers in tir Lhaeraidd and are considered among the most forward-thinking and comprehensive texts relating to child development and education of their time. Síomha's last professional work was 'The Impact of Lhaeraidh Education', published in 2010, a text which is credited with prompting her appointment to the chairmanship of the CED in 2012.
In 1992 Síomha resigned as a Junior Professor following the birth of her first child, her daughter, Syra Síomha, and reduced her time commitments to the NEA in order to help raise her family. Her son Ban Uthyr was born in 1994. In 2006, with both of her children now at the Secondary stage of their education, she continued her work for the NEA in earnest and began preparing materials for her final professional work. In 2009 she took a brief leave of absence in order to look after her ailing father who would pass away in the November of that year.
Early Political Career
At the time of her inauguration Síomha was working as a consultant to the NEA, and upon becoming a member of the Bonedd in 1998 she became a Junior Policy Advisor to the Teyrn's Office for Education; in 2001 she became a Senior Policy Advisor. In 2002 she was nominated to become the Head Policy Advisor to the Teyrn's Office for Education, but did not progress past the nomination stage; then in 2005, with the death of then Head Policy Advisor, Theo Reilly, she was once again nominated for the position and on 5 August 2005 was appointed to that position.
During her time as a consultant she assisted in the formation of the O'Collins Education Review in 1994 (notably while pregnant) and was a named contributor to the Mab Cedwyn Report into the effects of child abuse on education and emotional development in 1997. It was at this time that Síomha built her national profile and began to travel nationally to campaign for education concerns such as improved pay for teachers and increased legal protections for children. Síomha was widely considered to be a liberal and progressive voice on education and despite her seat in the Bonedd was able to publicly avoid expressing her views on other political issues in the press.
In 2002 Síomha participated in the Preliminary Constitutional Reform committee as part of the Blaengar Rhyddfrydol delegation, having been selected for her position as a Senior Policy Advisor on the NEA and based upon her nationwide profile and popularity with the young family demographic. Following the success of the Blaengar Rhyddfrydol position on the committee she was asked to participate in the 2005 Conjectural Procedures as a key speaker and campaigner.
At the Blaengar Rhyddfrydol 2007 Annual Conference in Caer Dunn, held 1 - 8 March, Líadáin Síomha was nominated to become Chairman of the Faction by Syr Blenard Ross, an elder statesman within the faction. As one of the first prominent female Bonedd members in national politics, she held a significant amount of influence with the press and public and the following day she was unanimously confirmed to the position (unanimous appointments of Faction Chairman not being uncommon).
Under her Chairmanship Blaengar Rhyddfrydol was reorganized along the lines of a political party as detailed in the 2005 Conjectural Procedures, and the membership structure was changed to enable non-Bonedd members to join as activists and voting committee members on internal matters including policy. During her tenure as Chairman of the party Paul O'Reilly, Karl mab Kwylyn, and Llewellyn Griffiths served as Faction Leader.
In 2012 Síomha was elected by a 72.2% majority to be the Faction Leader of Blaengar Rhyddfrydol after Llewellyn Griffiths stepped down over the Cordyn-Hughes scandal; she was replaced as Faction Chairman by Cullen McPhearse. Upon her election Síomha began laying the groundwork for the Constitutional Reform Project which would finalise and formalize the work of the Preliminary Constitutional Reform Project and the Conjectural Procedures. Having already restructured the faction into a functioning political entity which was prepared for the transition to democracy, Síomha now started to focus on the matter of electability and raising her own public profile.
As party leader Síomha defined the core policies of Blaengar Rhyddfrydol and started to publicly speak about issues outside the Education portfolio. As a result she is considered the founder of the cohesive ideology which Blaengar Rhyddfrydol now follows. Her strain of liberal thought has been described as Pragmatic Liberalism and focuses heavily on building the economy as a means to fund expensive state ventures in education and healthcare. The social aspect of her policies has been described as socialistic, but, in contrast to her socialist contemporaries within tir Lhaeraidd, Síomha refrained from blanket welfare, preferring to pursue efforts towards more targeted methods.
A vital cornerstone of Síomha's rhetoric during this period was the idea of 'Modern Neutrality' and 'Pragmatic Capitalism' in foeign policy. Modern Neutrality as a policy centred around the idea that, while the actions of foreign powers may be morally reprehensible and repugnant, the need to maintain a net profit and flow of capital was more important than moralistic posturing; therefore an attitude of 'hostile neutrality' was needed whereby increased pressure is placed financially and economically, in place of military action or outright sanctions.
April 2017 Election
In April 2017 tir Lhaeraidd held its first ever general election for the position of Taoiseach (Head of Government); despite the relatively short notice all four of the major Bonedd factions were able to form themselves as parties and prepare for the election campaign. Líadáin Síomha, became a Party Leader instead of Faction Leader at this time and began an electoral campaign described in the mainstream media as ‘rigorous’.
The crux of Blaengar Rhyddfrydol’s election manifesto under Síomha focused upon mental healthcare and education reforms, but also gave significant attention to infrastructural improvements, in particular energy reforms. The Síomha platform proved effective and popular with the public and Síomha herself travelled the length and breadth of tir Lhaeraidd to hold numerous election rallies of varying size, from small local gatherings within villages and hamlets, to large scale events a concert venues in the towns and cities.
The most important factor which differentiated Síomha and Blaengar Rhyddfrydol from the other parties and their candidates was the fact that they engaged directly with existing government institutions and the civil service throughout their campaign. According to Sagitiean political analyst Adrian Pierce this factor gave Blaengar Rhyddfrydol a sense of legitimacy and professionalism that the other parties lacked.
At numerous important campaign stops Líadáin Síomha met with local officials and publicly discussed their concerns and local issues in interviews and meetings which were broadcast nationwide via radio, television, and the internet. Síomha’s personal campaign manager Mairi Oghainlon described her strategy as; “Targeted local engagement, aimed at the precise and concentrated assault on local issues.” Post election Mrs Oghainlon would state “The constant pressure on discussing and tackling of local issues allowed Líadáin (Síomha) to get across how much she cared about the problems faced by the ordinary people of tir Lhaeraidd.”
The ‘common touch’ is widely considered, particularly by online commentators, to be a major cause of Síomha and her party’s success in the election.
Following the April 2017 elections in tir Lhaeraidh Blaengar Rhyddfrydol won 497 out of the 800 seats, giving them a majority in the Senedd. As Party Leader Líadáin Síomha was therefore elevated to the position of Taoiseach in accordance with the new constitution and was invited to form a government by the Teyrn. Síomha’s administration officially began on 19 April 2017, the day after the election result was announced.
In her inaugural address Síomha praised the spirit of unity in the country and acknowledged the fact that democratic reform had come peacefully to tir Lhaeraidd were so often elsewhere there had been violence and unrest. Further on in her address Síomha made plain the first priorities of her government; education and tax reform. According to published cabinet minutes and notes Síomha took an active and personal interest in the education reforms that were being formulated by her Secretaries of State for Work & Pensions, Education, and Development and had a direct hand in the abolition of academic testing for children under the age of ten.
The second matter discussed in her inaugural address, tax reform, received less media attention but was no less significant. Using her parliamentary majority Síomha was able to push through significant changes to the tax system including income based taxation and tax relief for the poor and for working parents. These changes perhaps garnered less attention due to the developing international crises which were arising in Johka and Kavo at the time which suddenly took centre stage in Síomha’s public activities.