The Rt. Hon. Susan Miranda O'Byrne (b. March 4, 1940 - 18 January 2007) was the 12th President of Georgeland, serving from January 2, 1999 to January 1, 2003 . She was Georgeland's first woman President. A jurist by profession, she was also the first woman appointed to the Georgeland Supreme Court.
|Position||12th President of Georgeland|
|Term in office||January 1, 1999 - January 1, 2003|
|Preceded by||Thomas Andrews|
|Succeeded by||Hank Reynolds|
|Total time in office||4 years|
|Born||July 6, 1937|
|Spouse||Tony O'Byrne (married 1970)|
O'Byrne was born Susan Kennedy in Emilypolis, Scoita in 1940 to Irish immigrants. She attended Catholic schools and spent the years 1961-1963 as a nun. In later life she said she left the nunnery because she found many of the order's practices 'outdated'. Despite this, O'Byrne has remained a devout Catholic all her life. After earning a law degree, O'Byrne began practicing law, being admitted to the bar in 1968. In 1977 she became a magistrate, and in 1982 the first woman to serve on the bench of the Scoitan Supreme Court. In 1989, President Michael Turnbull, on the advice of the Quarton government, O'Byrne became the first woman to be a Justice of the Federal Supreme Court.
O'Byrne was a moderate, slightly conservative justice, who is generally regarded as being a moderating influence between the more conservative and the more liberal justices. In 1997, along with two of her colleagues, O'Byrne voted to deny the federal government power over abortion, for which she and her colleagues were criticised in some circles for making a decision based on political views rather than law. Despite this, she came to be highly respected by Prime Minister Campbell Rhodes.
In 1999, with incumbent President Thomas Andrews retiring early, O'Byrne was selected by the government to be the next Head of State. The appointment surprised many, who expected a more liberal appointment. Womens' groups generally praised the appointment, though some criticised O'Byrne's abortion stance. O'Byrne was ill on January 1, the traditional swearing-in day for new Presidents, and was instead inaugurated on January 2.
O'Byrne served a non-partisan role as President and rarely, if ever, intervened in politics. She kept her own views private and took pride in performing her ceremonial duties.
O'Byrne was President during the 1999 Georgeland constitutional crisis, when a disastrous split in the ruling United Islands Labour Party robbed it of its majority. Prime Minister Rhodes had resigned, and the duly elected Labour leader, Anthony McDonald, could not command a majority in the House of Commons. O'Byrne at first tried to appoint the Conservative leader Michael Fisch to head a caretaker government, but Fisch initially refused to accept the appointment unless a general election was called immediately. For the single day of August 16, 1999, O'Byrne assumed executive authority herself, the only President to have done so. The following day Fisch accepted the appointment, and O'Byrne dissolved Parliament and called a fresh election. The election was constitutionally legal because of 'irretrievable breakdown in government' - many have argued O'Byrne's status as a constitutional lawyer and former judge made her a particularly effective President during this period.
O'Byrne was also President during the Corbana crisis, where a rogue Indian military invaded the Georgeland island of Corbana and occupied it. O'Byrne, as Commander-in-Chief, took a personal interest in the counter-invasion, but did not get involved in the political affairs. In July 2000 Rhodes resigned as PM and O'Byrne appointed Michael Elderton in his place. She re-appointed Rhodes in 2001.
O'Byrne was a popular President, enjoying approval ratings as high as 80%. She was seen as a Sovereign-like figure, apolitical but a strong national symbol. In some media and circles she was nicknamed "Queen Susan". The relationship between O'Byrne and Rhodes was often compared to that between Queen Victoria and Disraeli.
In 2002, O'Byrne announced she had been diagnosed with Breast Cancer and that she would vacate the Presidency at the end of the year. Her replacement was Admiral Hank Reynolds. She recieved successful treatment for her cancer. President O'Byrne's retirement was met with widespread dismay among Georgelanders, many of whom had wanted her to be re-appointed for a second term in 2003.
In 2004, O'Byrne was chair of the Constitutional Convention that eventually decided on the direct election of the President, something O'Byrne personally disapproved of.
In early 2005, rumours surfaced that O'Byrne would be made High Commissioner to the United Kingdom, something which never occurred.
In May 2005, a new poll suggested O'Byrne would easily win the Presidency should she decide to run in 2008. O'Byrne polled at 73% when pitted against several other potential candidates, with runner-up Martin Harrod on 12% and Campbell Rhodes a distant third on just 6%.
In January 2007, O'Byrne's family announced that the former President had died in an Emilypolis hospital. According to O'Byrne's doctors, she died of a serious, and previously undetected, form of cancer which had spread rapidly. Her illness had been first noticed in November of 2006, but kept from the public.
President O'Byrne was buried with full Presidential honours on January 22, and her funeral was attended by a number of world leaders.
O'Byrne married her husband, Tony, in May 1970. They had two sons, Jack (b. 1975) and Eric (b. 1979).
|President of Georgeland|
January 2, 1999 - January 1, 2003