As one of four children born and raised in Benvoirlich Estate, Bishopstown, Jerry learned from an early age how important and vital community is to one’s personal identity, development, values and society as a whole.
Jerry’s schooling began in Scoil an Spioraid Naoimh on Curraheen Road from where he went on to attend secondary school in Farrenferris. He went on to further his education in St Patrick’s College in Maynooth where he achieved a degree in Philosophy and Theology before graduating with Higher Diploma in Education from UCC.
The Buttimer family share a desire and dedication to making a meaningful contribution to society and representing those most vulnerable, particularly those with health issues. Testament to this is the role that Jerry proudly holds as Chairman of the Oireachtas Joint Committee for Health and Children.
Jerry’s mother Nancy was a nurse and his father and namesake was a well-known CEO of COPE Foundation, a non-profit organisation that supports thousands of adults and children with intellectual disabilities in Cork.
COPE Foundation is a charity that is very close to the hearts of the Buttimer family. Jerry’s younger brother John, who is a Cork City Councillor and former Lord Mayor, is also a senior clinical psychologist with the organisation.
Jerry is hugely passionate and dedicated to the people of Cork and to promoting and representing it as a region to live and work.
Education is also a key issue for Jerry who, prior to entering a career in politics spent many years as a teacher and also served as Director of Adult Education.
Jerry is also an unwavering advocate for equality and social justice. He was the first Fine Gael party member to come out as gay when he openly discussed his sexuality publicly for the first time when he took on the role of Chairman of Fine Gael’s lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender forum.
He also led the charge as one of Fine Gael’s strongest voices in the Yes campaign in the marriage equality referendum, and married his long term partner in 2017.
He has been entrenched in the local community for many decades having served as a Councillor prior to representing the people of Cork in the Oireachtas. He also writes a weekly column on Bishopstown and Wilton in the Evening Echo.
Jerry is also deeply passionate about sport and is a particularly avid supporter of Cork’s hurling and football teams and is a familiar face at matches big and small. His love of sport saw him being appointed to Croke Park’s Marketing Committee by then GAA President Séan Kelly.
His political career began as a councillor in Cork City Council from 2004 to 2007. He was elected to Seanad Eireann in 2007 and to Dail Eireann in 2011. In 2016 he returned to Seanad Eireann and held the position of Leader of Seanad Eireann from 2016 to 2020. In April 2020, he topped the poll on the Labour Panel in the Seanad election.