Leader of Fine Gael
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|Leader of Fine Gael|
|Inaugural holder||Eoin O'Duffy|
|Formation||8 September 1933|
|Deputy||Senator James Reilly|
|Website||Enda Kenny, TD|
The Leader of Fine Gael is the most senior politician within the Fine Gael political party in Ireland. Since 5 June 2002, the office has been held by Enda Kenny following the resignation of Michael Noonan as leader of the party.
In September 1933, Cumann na nGaedheal, the National Centre Party and the National Guard (previously called the Army Comrades Association better known as The Blueshirts) merged to form Fine Gael – the United Ireland party. Eoin O'Duffy, leader of the National Guard, though not a member of the Oireachtas, became the first party leader, with former President of the Executive Council W. T. Cosgrave serving as parliamentary leader. The merger brought together two strands of Irish nationalism namely the pro-treaty wing of revolutionary Sinn Féin and the old Home Rule party represented by James Dillon and the National Centre Party. In reality, the new party was a larger version of Cumann na nGaedheal, the party created in 1923 by the pro-Treaty leaders of the Irish Free State under W. T. Cosgrave.
W. T . Cosgrave retired as leader before the 1944 general election, and he was succeeded by Richard Mulcahy. Mulcahy was then member of the Seanad, so Tom O'Higgins acted as parliamentary party leader. After the 1948 general election, the First Inter-Party Government was formed, but Clann na Poblachta (under former anti-Treaty IRA Chief of Staff Seán MacBride) were opposed to Mulcahy because of his role as Chief of Staff of the Irish Army in the execution of republicans during the Irish Civil War. Mulcahy stepped aside and former Attorney General John A. Costello became Taoiseach, and Mulcahy serving as Minister for Education instead. Between 1948 and 1959, John A. Costello served as parliamentary party leader. Mulcahy retired as leader in 1959 and was replaced by James Dillon. After defeat in the 1965 general election, Dillon resigned and was replaced by Liam Cosgrave, son of W. T. Cosgrave. Liam Cosgrave served as Taoiseach from 1973–77. Cosgrave resigned after the Fine Gael–Labour Party government lost power at the 1977 general election.
Garret FitzGerald succeeded him as leader and served as Taoiseach from June 1981 to March 1982 and December 1982 to March 1987. FitzGerald resigned in 1987 after losing the 1987 general election and was replaced by Alan Dukes. After defeats at the 1989 general election and the 1990 presidential election, Dukes was replaced by John Bruton in 1990. Following the collapse of the Fianna Fáil–Labour Party government in 1994, Bruton become Taoiseach serving from 1994–97 in a Rainbow coalition with the Labour Party and Democratic Left. Bruton was deposed from leadership in 2001 in favour of Michael Noonan, due in part to fears Fine Gael would suffer severe losses at the 2002 general election. However, Noonan failed to live up to expectations and the party suffered an even greater collapse than had been expected under Bruton. Having gone into the election expecting to increase its seat count from 54 to 60, it only won 31 seats. On the night of the election Michael Noonan resigned as leader after just over a year in office, triggering the third leadership contest in the history of the party. Four candidates put their names forward for the leadership with Enda Kenny emerging as the victor after a secret ballot.
Like other Irish political parties, most notably Fianna Fáil, the Leader of Fine Gael has the power to dismiss or appoint their Deputy and to dismiss or appoint parliamentary party members to front bench positions. When Fine Gael is in opposition the leader usually acts as the Leader of the Opposition, and chairs the opposition front bench. Concordantly, when the party is in government, the leader would usually become Taoiseach, as well as appointing the cabinet.
|No.||Name||Portrait||Constituency||Term of Office||Taoiseach[nb 1]|
|1||Eoin O'Duffy||None[nb 2]||1933||1934||Éamon de Valera (1932–48)|
|2||W. T. Cosgrave||Carlow–Kilkenny (until 1927)
Cork Borough (from 1927)
[nb 3][nb 4]
|John A. Costello (1948–51)[nb 5]|
|Éamon de Valera (1951–54)|
|John A. Costello (1954–57)|
|Éamon de Valera (1957–59)|
|4||James Dillon||Monaghan||1959||1965||Seán Lemass (1959–65)|
|5||Liam Cosgrave||Dún Laoghaire and Rathdown||1965||1977||Jack Lynch (1965–73)|
|Liam Cosgrave (1973–77)|
|6||Garret FitzGerald||Dublin South-East||1977||1987||Jack Lynch (1977–79)|
|Charles Haughey (1979–81)|
|Garret FitzGerald (1981–82)|
|Charles Haughey (1982)|
|Garret FitzGerald (1982–87)|
|7||Alan Dukes||Kildare||1987||1990||Charles Haughey (1987–92)|
|Albert Reynolds (1992–94)|
|John Bruton (1994–97)|
|Bertie Ahern (1997–2008)|
|9||Michael Noonan||Limerick East||2001||2002|
|Brian Cowen (2008–11)|
|Enda Kenny (2011–present)|
The Deputy leader of Fine Gael is a senior politician within the Fine Gael political party in Ireland. The post is currently held by James Reilly, who was appointed deputy on 1 July 2010.
Like other political party leaders, the leader of Fine Gael has the power to appoint or dismiss their deputy. The position is not an elected one and is largely honorific.
|Name||Portrait||Constituency||Term of Office||Office(s)|
|Tom O'Higgins||Dublin County South||20 April 1972||?|
|Peter Barry||Cork South-Central||14 September 1977||26 March 1987||Spokesperson on Economic Affairs and Public Services
Minister for the Environment
Minister for Foreign Affairs
|John Bruton||Meath||26 March 1987||20 November 1990||Spokesperson on Industry and Commerce
Spokesperson on Education
|Peter Barry||Cork South-Central||14 January 1991||5 February 1993||Spokesperson on Industry and Commerce|
|Nora Owen||Dublin North||3 March 1993||9 February 2001||Spokesperson on Foreign Affairs
Minister for Justice
Spokesperson on Enterprise, Trade and Employment
|Jim Mitchell||Dublin Central||9 February 2001||17 May 2002||Spokesperson on Finance|
|Richard Bruton||Dublin North-Central||12 June 2002||14 June 2010||Spokesperson on Finance|
|James Reilly||Dublin North||1 July 2010||Spokesperson on Health
Minister for Health
Minister for Children and Youth Affairs
- The office of head of government was the President of the Executive Council from 1922 to 1937.
- O'Duffy did not hold a seat in the Oireachtas while he was party leader.
- While Mulcahy was a member of the Seanad in 1944, Tom O'Higgins acted as parliamentary party leader.
- Between 1948 and 1959, John A. Costello served as parliamentary party leader.
- Clann na Poblachta (under former anti-Treaty IRA Chief of Staff Seán MacBride) were opposed to Mulcahy because of his role as Chief of Staff of the Irish Army in the execution of republicans during the Irish Civil War. Mulcahy stepped aside and former Attorney General John A. Costello was chosen to head the government.
- "Enda Kenny elected Fine Gael leader". RTÉ News. 5 June 2002. Retrieved 14 February 2011.