Pat Rabbitte

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Pat Rabbitte
TD
Pat Rabbitte, Michael D Higgins, Derek Nolan.jpg
Pat Rabbitte (left)
Teachta Dála
Incumbent
Assumed office
June 1989
Constituency Dublin South–West
Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources
In office
9 March 2011 – 11 July 2014
Preceded by Pat Carey
Succeeded by Alex White
Leader of the Labour Party
In office
25 October 2002 – 6 September 2007
Preceded by Ruairi Quinn
Succeeded by Eamon Gilmore
Minister of State
for Commerce, Science and Technology
In office
20 December 1994 – 26 June 1997
Preceded by Séamus Brennan
Succeeded by Michael Smith
Personal details
Born (1949-05-18) 18 May 1949 (age 65)
Claremorris,
County Mayo, Ireland
Nationality Irish
Political party Labour Party
Alma mater University College Galway
Website www.patrabbitte.ie

Pat Rabbitte (born 18 May 1949) is an Irish Labour Party politician who was Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources from March 2011 to 11 July 2014. He is a Teachta Dála (TD) for the Dublin South–West constituency,[1] and was the leader of the Labour Party from October 2002 to August 2007.[2]

Early life[edit]

Patrick Rabbitte was born in 1949 near Claremorris and brought up in Woodstock, Ballindine, County Mayo. He was educated locally at St Colman's College, Claremorris before emigrating to Britain to find employment. He returned shortly afterwards to attend University College Galway (UCG) where he studied Arts and Law. While at university Rabbitte became involved in several college movements before serving as President of the UCG Students' Union in 1970–1971. Between 1972 and 1974 he achieved national attention when he served as President of the national Union of Students in Ireland (USI). Following the completion of his presidency in 1974 he became an official in the Irish Transport and General Workers' Union (ITGWU), becoming National Secretary for the union in 1980.

Rabbitte became involved in electoral politics for the first time in 1985 when he was elected to Dublin County Council. At the 1989 general election he was elected to Dáil Éireann as a Workers' Party TD for Dublin South–West. He has retained his seat at every election since as a Workers' Party, then Democratic Left and now a Labour Party TD.[3]

After the retirement as Party President of the Workers' Party by Tomás Mac Giolla in 1988, Rabbitte was seen as one of those who wanted to move the party away from its hard left position and alignment with the Soviet Union and international communist and workers' parties. He and some others who had come from the USI via the trade union movement were seen as wanting to bring the party more to the centre.[4] This led Rabbitte, Eamon Gilmore and others to earn the nickname "The Student Princes". In 1992 Rabbitte played a prominent role with Proinsias De Rossa in an attempt to jettison some of its more hard left positions. This eventually split the party.[5]

In government (1994–97)[edit]

In 1994 a new Rainbow Coalition government of Fine Gael, the Labour Party and Democratic Left came to power. Rabbitte was a member of the junior ministerial team, serving as Minister of State to the Government, as well as Minister for State at the Department of Enterprise and Employment with responsibility for Commerce, Science and Technology. During his tenure as a junior minister Rabbitte was instrumental in establishing an anti-drugs strategy as well as enacting legislation which gave the Credit union movement more authority. Rabbitte also decided to locate the proposed new state-backed Technology Campus for West Dublin, based on high speed telecommunication links, at CityWest Business Campus beside the N7 motorway, near Clondalkin.

Labour Party leader and aftermath[edit]

Following the 1997 general election the Rainbow Coalition lost power. The following year saw a merger between the Labour Party and Democratic Left, with Rabbitte participating in the negotiations. In October 2002 Rabbitte succeeded Ruairi Quinn as the new leader of the Labour Party. Under his leadership the party made some gains in the local elections of 2004. Rabbitte has been described as an extremely good performer in the Dáil, often outshining his Fine Gael counterpart Enda Kenny. He is also noted for his anti-Fianna Fáil rhetoric.

Under Rabbitte the Labour Party agreed to enter a pre-election pact with Fine Gael in an attempt to offer the electorate an alternative coalition government at the 2007 general election, which took place in May 2007. This was commonly known as 'The Mullingar Accord' and the proposed alternative government was called 'The Alliance for change'. The Green Party were also anticipated to be likely members of the coalition government on the basis of agreed points of view on many issues covered by the Mullingar Accord.

This move is rumoured to have caused some tension in the parliamentary party, as some members would prefer not to be aligned with any party in advance of an election. The election result did not return a sufficient number of seats for the Alliance for Change to occupy government, even with the support of the Green Party. Rabbitte himself commented on the election result: "This leaves Mr. Ahern in the driving seat". Negotiations between Fianna Fáil and the Green Party resulted in a government being formed on 13 June 2007.

Following the disappointing result in the election for Labour, Rabbitte announced he was stepping down as leader on 23 August 2007. He said in his resignation statement.[2][6] that he took responsibility for the outcome of the recent general election, in which his party failed to gain new seats and failed to replace the outgoing government. He was succeeded as party leader by Eamon Gilmore.

Rabbitte gained strong public attention on 18 November 2010 when he angrily criticised the Minister for Community, Equality and Gaeltacht Affairs, Pat Carey, when they appeared together on the Prime Time television programme.[7] A recording of the outburst on the Internet was viewed 100,000 times in its first three days there.[8]

Rabbitte was re-elected on the first count in the 2011 general election. His running mate Eamonn Maloney was also elected. On 9 March 2011, he was appointed as Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources.

Ministerial career (2011–14)[edit]

Rabbitte was appointed Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources after the 2011 general election.

The journalist Fintan O'Toole, writing in The Irish Times in August 2011, criticised the lack of royalties system for gas and oil in Ireland. He claimed that "The State is about to sign away almost all our resources on terms by far the worst in the developed world".[9] Rabbitte responded with a letter, claiming that the article was inaccurate.[10] Rabbitte's response was in turn criticised by Cian O'Callaghan, a Labour Party member of Fingal County Council, as "misguided".[11]

In July 2014 Rabbitte was replaced by Alex White as part of a reshuffle of the cabinet.

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Mr. Pat Rabbitte". Oireachtas Members Database. Retrieved 29 October 2009. 
  2. ^ a b "Rabbitte resigns as Labour leader". RTÉ News. 23 August 2007. 
  3. ^ "Pat Rabbitte". ElectionsIreland.org. Retrieved 29 October 2009. 
  4. ^ For this and other affirmations, listen to in Conversations with Eamon Dunphy, RTÉ Radio 1, 8 September 2007.
  5. ^ See "Patterns of Betrayal, The flight from Socialism, Repsol, Dublin 1992.
  6. ^ "Pat Rabbitte announces he is standing down as Labour Party leader (resignation speech text)". Labour party website. 23 August 2007. 
  7. ^ "Miriam Lord's Week: Spat of the Pats is Prime attraction". The Irish Times. 20 November 2010. 
  8. ^ "Pat Rabbitte sticks it to Pat Carey on Prime Time". youtube.com. Retrieved 17 November 2010. 
  9. ^ O'Toole, Fintan (16 August 2011). "Let's make Norway joint owner of our oil and gas". Irish Times. 
  10. ^ "Oil firms will shun us if we have Norwegian-style taxes". The Irish Times. 18 August 2011. 
  11. ^ "Sharing energy with Norway". The Irish Times. 19 August 2011. 

External links[edit]

Oireachtas
Preceded by
Seán Walsh
(Fianna Fáil)
Workers' Party Teachta Dála for Dublin South–West
1989–1992
Succeeded by
Himself
as Democratic Left TD
Preceded by
Himself
as Workers' Party TD
Democratic Left Teachta Dála for Dublin South–West
1992–1999
Succeeded by
Himself
as Labour Party TD
Preceded by
Himself
as Democratic Left TD
Labour Party Teachta Dála for Dublin South–West
1999–present
Incumbent
Political offices
New office Minister of State to the Government
1994–1997
Succeeded by
Bobby Molloy
Preceded by
Séamus Brennan
Minister of State for Commerce, Technology and Consumer Affairs
1994–1997
Succeeded by
Michael Smith
Preceded by
Pat Carey
Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources
2011–2014
Succeeded by
Alex White
Party political offices
Preceded by
Ruairi Quinn
Leader of the Labour Party
2002–2007
Succeeded by
Eamon Gilmore