- 1994 -1997: Member of Dáil Éireann and Opposition Spokesperson on Health.
- 1993 -1994: Minister for Justice. Member of the Irish Government team which negotiated the Joint Declaration of December 1993, by the British and Irish Governments, on Peace and Reconciliation in Ireland.
- 1992: Minister for Tourism, Transport and Communications.
- 1991 -1992: Member of Dáil Éireann.
- 1987 – 1991: Minister for European Affairs. Chaired inter-departmental Cttee. on EU policy with responsibility for co-ordinating Ireland’s EU Presidency in 1990. During the Presidency chaired the Budget, Telecommunications, Culture and Development Councils.
- 1982 – 1987: Member of Dáil Éireann. Chairwoman of 1st Joint Parliamentary Cttee. on Women’s Rights and Member of Parliamentary Cttee. on Marital Breakdown.
- 1982: Minister of State for Education.
- 1981 – 1982: Member of Dáil Éireann.
- 1979 – 1981: Minister for the Gaeltacht (1st woman Cabinet Minister since the foundation of the State).
- 1977 – 1979: Minister of State for Commerce.
- 1975 – 1977: Member of Dáil Éireann (Irish Parliament).
- 1970 -1975: Teacher
- 1997 – 2000: Columnist with “The Irish Times” newspaper; TV presenter; Part-time business consultant; Non-executive director Aer Lingus; Non-executive director Ryan Hotels.
- 2000 – 2010: Member of the European Court of Auditors.
Commissioner for Research, Innovation and Science