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John Bruton

John Bruton

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John Gerard Bruton is an Irish
Irish people
The Irish people are an ethnic group who originate in Ireland, an island in northwestern Europe. Ireland has been populated for around 9,000 years , with the Irish people's earliest ancestors recorded having legends of being descended from groups such as the Nemedians, Fomorians, Fir Bolg, Tuatha...

 politician
Politician
A politician, political leader, or political figure is an individual who is involved in influencing public policy and decision making...

 who served as Taoiseach
Taoiseach
The Taoiseach is the head of government or prime minister of Ireland. The Taoiseach is appointed by the President upon the nomination of Dáil Éireann, the lower house of the Oireachtas , and must, in order to remain in office, retain the support of a majority in the Dáil.The current Taoiseach is...

 (prime minister) of Ireland
Republic of Ireland
Ireland , described as the Republic of Ireland , is a sovereign state in Europe occupying approximately five-sixths of the island of the same name. Its capital is Dublin. Ireland, which had a population of 4.58 million in 2011, is a constitutional republic governed as a parliamentary democracy,...

 from 1994 to 1997. A minister under two taoisigh
Taoiseach
The Taoiseach is the head of government or prime minister of Ireland. The Taoiseach is appointed by the President upon the nomination of Dáil Éireann, the lower house of the Oireachtas , and must, in order to remain in office, retain the support of a majority in the Dáil.The current Taoiseach is...

, Liam Cosgrave
Liam Cosgrave
Liam Cosgrave is an Irish Fine Gael politician who served as Taoiseach and as Leader of Fine Gael . He was a Teachta Dála from 1943 to 1981....

 and Garret FitzGerald
Garret FitzGerald
Garret FitzGerald was an Irish politician who was twice Taoiseach of Ireland, serving in office from July 1981 to February 1982 and again from December 1982 to March 1987. FitzGerald was elected to Seanad Éireann in 1965 and was subsequently elected to Dáil Éireann as a Fine Gael TD in 1969. He...

, Bruton held a number of the top posts in Irish government, including Minister for Finance
Minister for Finance (Ireland)
The Minister for Finance is the title held by the Irish government minister responsible for all financial and monetary matters. The office-holder controls the Department of Finance and is considered one of the most important members of the Government of Ireland.The current Minister for Finance is...

 (1981–1982 and 1986–1987), and Minister for Industry, Trade, Commerce and Tourism
Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment (Ireland)
The Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation is the senior minister at the Department of Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation in the Government of Ireland.The current Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation is Richard Bruton, TD...

 (1983–1986). He became leader of Fine Gael
Fine Gael
Fine Gael is a centre-right to centrist political party in the Republic of Ireland. It is the single largest party in Ireland in the Oireachtas, in local government, and in terms of Members of the European Parliament. The party has a membership of over 35,000...

 in 1990 and served as Taoiseach from 1994 until 1997, leading the Rainbow Coalition government of Fine Gael
Fine Gael
Fine Gael is a centre-right to centrist political party in the Republic of Ireland. It is the single largest party in Ireland in the Oireachtas, in local government, and in terms of Members of the European Parliament. The party has a membership of over 35,000...

Labour Party
Labour Party (Ireland)
The Labour Party is a social-democratic political party in the Republic of Ireland. The Labour Party was founded in 1912 in Clonmel, County Tipperary, by James Connolly, James Larkin and William X. O'Brien as the political wing of the Irish Trade Union Congress. Unlike the other main Irish...

Democratic Left
Democratic Left (Ireland)
Democratic Left was a democratic socialist political party active in Ireland between 1992 and 1999. It came into being after a split in the Workers' Party and, after just seven years in existence, it merged into the Irish Labour Party.-Origins:...

.

Bruton was first elected to Dáil Éireann
Dáil Éireann
Dáil Éireann is the lower house, but principal chamber, of the Oireachtas , which also includes the President of Ireland and Seanad Éireann . It is directly elected at least once in every five years under the system of proportional representation by means of the single transferable vote...

 as a TD
Teachta Dála
A Teachta Dála , usually abbreviated as TD in English, is a member of Dáil Éireann, the lower house of the Oireachtas . It is the equivalent of terms such as "Member of Parliament" or "deputy" used in other states. The official translation of the term is "Deputy to the Dáil", though a more literal...

 for Meath in 1969, and served continuously until his retirement from domestic politics in 2004. He served as the Ambassador
Ambassador
An ambassador is the highest ranking diplomat who represents a nation and is usually accredited to a foreign sovereign or government, or to an international organization....

 of the European Union
European Union
The European Union is an economic and political union of 27 independent member states which are located primarily in Europe. The EU traces its origins from the European Coal and Steel Community and the European Economic Community , formed by six countries in 1958...

 to the United States
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

 from 2004–2009, and is a former Vice-President of the European People's Party
European People's Party
The European People's Party is a pro-European centre-right European political party. The EPP was founded in 1976 by Christian democratic parties, but later it increased its membership to include conservative parties and parties of other centre-right perspectives.The EPP is the most influential of...

 (EPP).

Early and personal life


John Gerard Bruton was born to a wealthy, Catholic farming family in Dunboyne
Dunboyne
Dunboyne is a town in County Meath in Ireland. For the most part, it is a dormitory town for the city of Dublin.-Location:Dunboyne is centred on the crossroads formed by the R156 regional road and the old Maynooth Road ....

, County Meath
County Meath
County Meath is a county in Ireland. It is part of the Mid-East Region and is also located in the province of Leinster. It is named after the ancient Kingdom of Mide . Meath County Council is the local authority for the county...

 and educated at Clongowes Wood College
Clongowes Wood College
Clongowes Wood College is a voluntary secondary boarding school for boys, located near Clane in County Kildare, Ireland. Founded by the Society of Jesus in 1814, it is one of Ireland's oldest Catholic schools, and featured prominently in James Joyce's semi-autobiographical novel A Portrait of the...

.

Oliver Coogan notes in his Politics and War in Meath 1913–23 that Bruton's granduncle was one of the farmers in south Meath who prevented the traditionally Anglo-Irish ascendency hunt from proceeding in the area during the Irish War of Independence
Irish War of Independence
The Irish War of Independence , Anglo-Irish War, Black and Tan War, or Tan War was a guerrilla war mounted by the Irish Republican Army against the British government and its forces in Ireland. It began in January 1919, following the Irish Republic's declaration of independence. Both sides agreed...

.

Bruton later went on to study at University College Dublin
University College Dublin
University College Dublin ) - formally known as University College Dublin - National University of Ireland, Dublin is the Republic of Ireland's largest, and Ireland's second largest, university, with over 1,300 faculty and 17,000 students...

 where he received an honours Bachelor of Arts
Bachelor of Arts
A Bachelor of Arts , from the Latin artium baccalaureus, is a bachelor's degree awarded for an undergraduate course or program in either the liberal arts, the sciences, or both...

 degree and qualified as a barrister
Barrister
A barrister is a member of one of the two classes of lawyer found in many common law jurisdictions with split legal professions. Barristers specialise in courtroom advocacy, drafting legal pleadings and giving expert legal opinions...

 from King's Inns
King's Inns
The Honorable Society of King's Inns , is the institution which controls the entry of barristers-at-law into the justice system of Ireland...

, but never went on to practice law
Law
Law is a system of rules and guidelines which are enforced through social institutions to govern behavior, wherever possible. It shapes politics, economics and society in numerous ways and serves as a social mediator of relations between people. Contract law regulates everything from buying a bus...

. Bruton was narrowly elected to Dáil Éireann
Dáil Éireann
Dáil Éireann is the lower house, but principal chamber, of the Oireachtas , which also includes the President of Ireland and Seanad Éireann . It is directly elected at least once in every five years under the system of proportional representation by means of the single transferable vote...

 in the 1969 general election
Irish general election, 1969
The Irish general election of 1969 was held on 18 June 1969. The newly elected members of the 19th Dáil assembled at Leinster House on 2 July when the new Taoiseach and government were appointed...

 as a Fine Gael TD
Teachta Dála
A Teachta Dála , usually abbreviated as TD in English, is a member of Dáil Éireann, the lower house of the Oireachtas . It is the equivalent of terms such as "Member of Parliament" or "deputy" used in other states. The official translation of the term is "Deputy to the Dáil", though a more literal...

 for Meath. At the age of 22 he was the fourth youngest ever member of the Dáil up to that point. He more than doubled his vote in the general election of 1973
Irish general election, 1973
The Irish general election of 1973 was held on 28 February 1973. The newly elected 144 members of the 20th Dáil assembled at Leinster House on 4 March when the new Taoiseach and government were appointed....

, which brought Fine Gael to power as part of the National Coalition
Government of the 20th Dáil
The 20th Dáil was elected at the 1973 general election on 28 February 1973 and first met on 14 March when the 14th Government of Ireland was appointed...

 with the Labour Party. Bruton was appointed Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Industry & Commerce and to the Minister for Education, by the National Coalition in 1973. He remained in office until 1977.

He is married to Finola Bruton and has four children.

Shadow cabinet and in government


Following Fine Gael's defeat in the 1977 general election
Irish general election, 1977
The Irish general election of 1977 was held on 16 June 1977 and is regarded as a pivotal point in twentieth century Irish politics. The general election took place in 42 parliamentary constituencies throughout Ireland for 148 seats in the lower house of parliament, Dáil Éireann. The number of...

, Bruton was appointed to the new front bench as Spokesperson on Agriculture by its new leader, Garret FitzGerald
Garret FitzGerald
Garret FitzGerald was an Irish politician who was twice Taoiseach of Ireland, serving in office from July 1981 to February 1982 and again from December 1982 to March 1987. FitzGerald was elected to Seanad Éireann in 1965 and was subsequently elected to Dáil Éireann as a Fine Gael TD in 1969. He...

. He was later promoted to the shadow Finance portfolio, making a particular effective speech in the Dáil in response to the budget of 1980. He played a prominent role in Fine Gael's campaign in the 1981 general election
Irish general election, 1981
The Irish general election of 1981 was held on 11 June 1981, three weeks after the dissolution of the Dáil on 21 May. The newly elected 166 members of the 22nd Dáil assembled at Leinster House on 30 June when a new Taoiseach and government were appointed....

 which resulted in another coalition with the Labour Party
Labour Party (Ireland)
The Labour Party is a social-democratic political party in the Republic of Ireland. The Labour Party was founded in 1912 in Clonmel, County Tipperary, by James Connolly, James Larkin and William X. O'Brien as the political wing of the Irish Trade Union Congress. Unlike the other main Irish...

 and with FitzGerald as Taoiseach. Bruton received a huge personal vote in Meath, and at the age of only 34 was appointed Minister for Finance, the most senior position in the Cabinet. The new government had to abandon its election promises to cut taxes in the light of overwhelming economic realities. The government collapsed unexpectedly on the night of 27 January 1982 when Bruton's controversial Budget was defeated in the Dáil. The previously supportive Independent Socialist TD, Jim Kemmy
Jim Kemmy
Jim Kemmy was an Irish socialist politician from Limerick, who started his political career in the Labour Party...

, voted against the Budget, which proposed among other things the introduction of VAT
Vat
Vat or VAT may refer to:* A type of container such as a barrel, storage tank, or tub, often constructed of welded sheet stainless steel, and used for holding, storing, and processing liquids such as milk, wine, and beer...

 on children's shoes, thus causing the Dáil to be dissolved and Fine Gael to lose power.

First leadership bid


The minority Fianna Fáil
Fianna Fáil
Fianna Fáil – The Republican Party , more commonly known as Fianna Fáil is a centrist political party in the Republic of Ireland, founded on 23 March 1926. Fianna Fáil's name is traditionally translated into English as Soldiers of Destiny, although a more accurate rendition would be Warriors of Fál...

 government which followed only lasted until November 1982 when Fine Gael once again returned to power in a coalition government with the Labour Party but when the new government was formed Bruton was moved from Finance to become Minister for Industry and Energy. The following year (1983), Energy became a separate Department and Bruton's brief became Industry, Trade, Commerce and Tourism. A 1986 Cabinet re-shuffle saw Bruton return as Minister for Finance. Although he was Minister for Finance, Bruton never presented his Budget. The Labour Party withdrew from the government due to a disagreement over his budget proposals leading to the collapse of the government and another election.

Following the 1987 general election
Irish general election, 1987
The Irish general election of 1987 was held on 17 February 1987, four weeks after the dissolution of the Dáil on 20 January. The newly-elected 166 members of the 25th Dáil assembled at Leinster House on 10 March when a new Taoiseach and government were appointed.The general election took place in...

 Fine Gael suffered a heavy defeat. Garret FitzGerald resigned as leader immediately, and a leadership contest ensued between Alan Dukes
Alan Dukes
Alan Dukes is a former Irish politician who served as leader of the Fine Gael political party and Teachta Dála for Kildare and Kildare South. He holds the distinction of being one of only five TDs to be appointed Minister on their first day in the Dáil. He lost his seat in the 2002 general election...

, Peter Barry and Bruton himself. The exact result of the vote was not published. This was a severe blow as the victor, Dukes, was, like Bruton, one of the younger generation of politicians (albeit a couple of years older than Bruton) but had been a TD for 12 years fewer. Bruton was of Fine Gael's Christian Democrat tradition, whereas Dukes was in FitzGerald's Social Democratic mould. Dukes was perceived to be a lacklustre leader however, who alienated his party's TDs and made little progress in recovering the ground lost by Fine Gael in 1987. His Tallaght Strategy
Tallaght Strategy
In Irish politics, the Tallaght Strategy was a policy followed by the Fine Gael party starting in 1987. Under this policy, the Fine Gael opposition party would not oppose economic reforms proposed by the Fianna Fáil minority government in the national interest...

 where he stated that he would support Fianna Fail on economic reforms was also unpopular. The disastrous performance in the 1990 presidential election
Irish presidential election, 1990
-Aftermath:While the role of the presidency in day to day politics is a very limited one the Robinson presidency is regarded by many observers as a watershed in Irish society symbolising the shift away from the conservative ultracatholic male-dominated Ireland which existed up until the end of the...

 in which the party finished a humiliating and unprecedented third in a national election, proved to be the final straw for the party and Dukes forced to resign as leader shortly after. Bruton, who was the deputy-leader of Fine Gael at the time, was unopposed in the ensuing leadership election.

Leadership of Fine Gael


Whereas Dukes came from the social democratic wing of Fine Gael, Bruton came from the more conservative wing. However to the surprise of critics and of conservatives, in his first policy initiative he called for a referendum on a Constitutional amendment permitting the enactment of legislation allowing for divorce in Ireland.

Fine Gael had been in decline for nearly a decade; from the highpoint of the November 1982 general election when it achieved 70 seats in Dáil Éireann, only five seats short of Fianna Fáil's total the party had lost a considerable number of seats. Following the inexperienced Dukes' disastrous period of leadership, Bruton's election was seen as offering Fine Gael a chance to rebuild under a far more politically experienced leader. However Bruton's perceived right wing persona and his rural background was used against him by critics and particularly by the media.

By the 1992 general election
Irish general election, 1992
The Irish general election of 1992 was held on Wednesday, 25 November 1992, almost three weeks after the dissolution of the Dáil on 5 November. However, after difficulties in forming a government the newly elected 166 members of the 27th Dáil did not assemble at Leinster House until 4 January 1993...

, the anti-Fianna Fáil mood in the country produced a major swing to the opposition, but that support went to Labour, not Bruton's Fine Gael, which actually lost a further 10 seats. Due to deadlocked negotiations for government which stemmed in part from Labour Party's refusal to be part of a coalition which would include the liberal conservative Progressive Democrats
Progressive Democrats
The Progressive Democrats , commonly known as the PDs, was a pro-free market liberal political party in the Republic of Ireland.Launched on 21 December 1985 by Desmond O'Malley and other politicians who had split from Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael, the Progressive Democrats took liberal positions on...

 and due to John Bruton ruling out Labour's preference for Democratic Left
Democratic Left
Democratic Left, Democratic Left Party, or Party of the Democratic Left may refer to:-Political parties:*Democratic Left *Democratic Left *Democratic Left *Democratic Left *Democratic Left...

 to be included in the government, the Labour Party chose to enter into a new coalition with Fianna Fáil. It was a humiliating blow to Bruton. Fine Gael, and Bruton personally, continued to perform poorly in opinion polls throughout 1993 and early 1994 and Bruton narrowly survived a challenge to his leadership in early 1994. However a couple of by-election victories, and a good performance in the 1994 European elections
European Parliament election, 1994 (Ireland)
The 1994 European Parliament election in Ireland was the Irish component of the 1994 European Parliament election. The election was conducted under the single transferable vote.-Results:-Voting details:-See also:...

, coupled with a disastrous showing by the Labour Party, shored up his position. When in late 1994 the government collapsed, Bruton was able to form a government with the Labour Party and Democratic Left
Democratic Left (Ireland)
Democratic Left was a democratic socialist political party active in Ireland between 1992 and 1999. It came into being after a split in the Workers' Party and, after just seven years in existence, it merged into the Irish Labour Party.-Origins:...

. Bruton faced charges of hypocrisy for agreeing to enter government with Democratic Left
Democratic Left
Democratic Left, Democratic Left Party, or Party of the Democratic Left may refer to:-Political parties:*Democratic Left *Democratic Left *Democratic Left *Democratic Left *Democratic Left...

, as Fine Gael campaigned in the 1992 general election on a promise not to enter government with the party. Nevertheless, on 15 December, aged 47, Bruton became the then youngest ever Taoiseach. This was the first time in the history of the state that a new government was installed without a general election being held.

Taoiseach 1994–1997


Bruton's politics were markedly different from most Irish leaders. Whereas most leaders had come from or identified with the independence movement Sinn Féin
Sinn Féin
Sinn Féin is a left wing, Irish republican political party in Ireland. The name is Irish for "ourselves" or "we ourselves", although it is frequently mistranslated as "ourselves alone". Originating in the Sinn Féin organisation founded in 1905 by Arthur Griffith, it took its current form in 1970...

 (in its 1917–22 phase), Bruton identified more with the more moderate Irish Parliamentary Party
Irish Parliamentary Party
The Irish Parliamentary Party was formed in 1882 by Charles Stewart Parnell, the leader of the Nationalist Party, replacing the Home Rule League, as official parliamentary party for Irish nationalist Members of Parliament elected to the House of Commons at...

 (IPP) tradition that Sinn Féin had eclipsed at the 1918 general election. He hung a picture of his political hero, the IPP's leader John Redmond
John Redmond
John Edward Redmond was an Irish nationalist politician, barrister, MP in the House of Commons of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland and leader of the Irish Parliamentary Party from 1900 to 1918...

 on a wall in his office as Taoiseach, in preference to other figures such as Patrick Pearse
Patrick Pearse
Patrick Henry Pearse was an Irish teacher, barrister, poet, writer, nationalist and political activist who was one of the leaders of the Easter Rising in 1916...

. But as evidence of Bruton's complexity, he also kept a picture of former Fianna Fáil Taoiseach Seán Lemass
Seán Lemass
Seán Francis Lemass was one of the most prominent Irish politicians of the 20th century. He served as Taoiseach from 1959 until 1966....

, which had been hung there by Reynolds, and which Bruton kept because he viewed Lemass as the best and most reforming Taoiseach in the history of the state.

Bruton's Rainbow Coalition was generally perceived to be a good government, with Bruton, who was meant to have had a bad relationship with Tánaiste
Tánaiste
The Tánaiste is the deputy prime minister of Ireland. The current Tánaiste is Eamon Gilmore, TD who was appointed on 9 March 2011.- Origins and etymology :...

 Dick Spring, being seen as its star performer. His popularity soared while he and Spring (along with Proinsias De Rossa
Proinsias De Rossa
Proinsias De Rossa is an Irish Labour Party politician and Member of the European Parliament for the Dublin constituency. He a former President of the Workers' Party and subsequently leader of Democratic Left, and later, a senior member of the Labour Party. He was Minister for Social Welfare from...

, leader of Democratic Left) were seen as an effective team. Constitutional reform was also on the government's agenda when a referendum to abolish the prohibition on divorce
Fifteenth Amendment of the Constitution of Ireland
The Fifteenth Amendment of the Constitution of Ireland repealed the constitutional prohibition of divorce. It was effected by the Fifteenth Amendment of the Constitution Act, 1995, which was approved by referendum on 24 November 1995 and signed into law on 17 June 1996.-Changes to the...

 was passed by a narrow majority.

Continued developments in the Northern Ireland
Northern Ireland
Northern Ireland is one of the four countries of the United Kingdom. Situated in the north-east of the island of Ireland, it shares a border with the Republic of Ireland to the south and west...

 peace process and his attitude to Anglo-Irish relations came to define Bruton's tenure as Taoiseach. In February 1995 he launched the Anglo-Irish ‘Framework Document’ with the British Prime Minister
Prime Minister of the United Kingdom
The Prime Minister of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland is the Head of Her Majesty's Government in the United Kingdom. The Prime Minister and Cabinet are collectively accountable for their policies and actions to the Sovereign, to Parliament, to their political party and...

, John Major
John Major
Sir John Major, is a British Conservative politician, who served as Prime Minister of the United Kingdom and Leader of the Conservative Party from 1990–1997...

. This document outlined new proposed relations between Northern Ireland and the Republic
Republic of Ireland
Ireland , described as the Republic of Ireland , is a sovereign state in Europe occupying approximately five-sixths of the island of the same name. Its capital is Dublin. Ireland, which had a population of 4.58 million in 2011, is a constitutional republic governed as a parliamentary democracy,...

. Many of Bruton's opponents considered him to be too willing to accommodate unionist demands (in one famous accusation, Albert Reynolds
Albert Reynolds
Albert Reynolds , served as Taoiseach of Ireland, serving one term in office from 1992 until 1994. He has been nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize...

 referred to him as "John Unionist"). However, he took a strongly critical position on the British Government's reluctance to engage with Sinn Féin
Sinn Féin
Sinn Féin is a left wing, Irish republican political party in Ireland. The name is Irish for "ourselves" or "we ourselves", although it is frequently mistranslated as "ourselves alone". Originating in the Sinn Féin organisation founded in 1905 by Arthur Griffith, it took its current form in 1970...

 during the IRA
Provisional Irish Republican Army
The Provisional Irish Republican Army is an Irish republican paramilitary organisation whose aim was to remove Northern Ireland from the United Kingdom and bring about a socialist republic within a united Ireland by force of arms and political persuasion...

's 1994–1997 ceasefire. Bruton complained to a local radio reporter in Cork that "I am sick of answering questions about the fucking peace process", for which he later apologised.

Bruton also established a working relationship with Gerry Adams
Gerry Adams
Gerry Adams is an Irish republican politician and Teachta Dála for the constituency of Louth. From 1983 to 1992 and from 1997 to 2011, he was an abstentionist Westminster Member of Parliament for Belfast West. He is the president of Sinn Féin, the second largest political party in Northern...

 of Sinn Féin
Sinn Féin
Sinn Féin is a left wing, Irish republican political party in Ireland. The name is Irish for "ourselves" or "we ourselves", although it is frequently mistranslated as "ourselves alone". Originating in the Sinn Féin organisation founded in 1905 by Arthur Griffith, it took its current form in 1970...

, however both were mutually distrustful of each other. The relationship became frayed following the ending of the ceasefire in 1996, resulting in a bomb explosion in London. These relations worsened when the IRA killed Jerry McCabe
Jerry McCabe
Detective Garda Jerry McCabe was a member of the Garda Síochána, the police force of the Republic of Ireland. McCabe was murdered in Adare, County Limerick on 7 June 1996, by members of the paramilitary group, the Provisional IRA, during the attempted robbery of a post office van.-Early...

, a member of An Garda Síochána, in a botched post office robbery in County Limerick
County Limerick
It is thought that humans had established themselves in the Lough Gur area of the county as early as 3000 BC, while megalithic remains found at Duntryleague date back further to 3500 BC...

, and another bomb explosion in Manchester
1996 Manchester bombing
The 1996 Manchester bombing was an attack carried out by the Provisional Irish Republican Army on 15 June 1996 in Manchester, England. The bomb, placed in a van on Corporation Street in city centre, targeted the city's infrastructure and economy and caused widespread damage, estimated by...

. However, Bruton received widespread praise in the Republic for condemning the Royal Ulster Constabulary
Royal Ulster Constabulary
The Royal Ulster Constabulary was the name of the police force in Northern Ireland from 1922 to 2000. Following the awarding of the George Cross in 2000, it was subsequently known as the Royal Ulster Constabulary GC. It was founded on 1 June 1922 out of the Royal Irish Constabulary...

 for yielding to loyalist
Ulster loyalism
Ulster loyalism is an ideology that is opposed to a united Ireland. It can mean either support for upholding Northern Ireland's status as a constituent part of the United Kingdom , support for Northern Ireland independence, or support for loyalist paramilitaries...

 threats at Drumcree
Drumcree conflict
The Drumcree conflict or Drumcree standoff is an ongoing dispute over a yearly parade in the town of Portadown, Northern Ireland. The dispute is between the Orange Order and local residents. The residents are currently represented by the Garvaghy Road Residents Coalition ; before 1995 they were...

 by allowing members of the Orange Order
Orange Institution
The Orange Institution is a Protestant fraternal organisation based mainly in Northern Ireland and Scotland, though it has lodges throughout the Commonwealth and United States. The Institution was founded in 1796 near the village of Loughgall in County Armagh, Ireland...

 to parade through a nationalist
Irish nationalism
Irish nationalism manifests itself in political and social movements and in sentiment inspired by a love for Irish culture, language and history, and as a sense of pride in Ireland and in the Irish people...

 district. He stated that the RUC had been neither impartial nor consistent in applying the law. His outrage and criticism led to a tense atmosphere between London
London
London is the capital city of :England and the :United Kingdom, the largest metropolitan area in the United Kingdom, and the largest urban zone in the European Union by most measures. Located on the River Thames, London has been a major settlement for two millennia, its history going back to its...

 and Dublin. By the time of the 1997 general election
Irish general election, 1997
The Irish general election of 1997 was held on Friday, 6 June 1997. The 166 newly elected members of the 28th Dáil assembled on 26 June 1997 when a new Taoiseach and government were appointed....

 Sinn Féin
Sinn Féin
Sinn Féin is a left wing, Irish republican political party in Ireland. The name is Irish for "ourselves" or "we ourselves", although it is frequently mistranslated as "ourselves alone". Originating in the Sinn Féin organisation founded in 1905 by Arthur Griffith, it took its current form in 1970...

 stated that they would prefer a Fianna Fáil
Fianna Fáil
Fianna Fáil – The Republican Party , more commonly known as Fianna Fáil is a centrist political party in the Republic of Ireland, founded on 23 March 1926. Fianna Fáil's name is traditionally translated into English as Soldiers of Destiny, although a more accurate rendition would be Warriors of Fál...

 led government and the IRA resumed their ceasefire soon after Fine Gael lost the 1997 general election
Irish general election, 1997
The Irish general election of 1997 was held on Friday, 6 June 1997. The 166 newly elected members of the 28th Dáil assembled on 26 June 1997 when a new Taoiseach and government were appointed....

.

He also presided over a successful Irish Presidency of the European Union
European Union
The European Union is an economic and political union of 27 independent member states which are located primarily in Europe. The EU traces its origins from the European Coal and Steel Community and the European Economic Community , formed by six countries in 1958...

 in 1996 and helped finalise the Stability and Growth Pact
Stability and Growth Pact
The Stability and Growth Pact is an agreement among the 27 Member states of the European Union that take part in the Eurozone, to facilitate and maintain the stability of the Economic and Monetary Union...

, which establishes macroeconomic parameters for countries participating in the single European currency, the euro
Euro
The euro is the official currency of the eurozone: 17 of the 27 member states of the European Union. It is also the currency used by the Institutions of the European Union. The eurozone consists of Austria, Belgium, Cyprus, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg,...

. Bruton addressed a joint session of the United States Congress
Joint session of the United States Congress
Joint sessions of the United States Congress are the gatherings together of both houses of the United States Congress...

 on 11 September 1996, as only the 30th head of state or government of an EU country to do so since 1945.

Bruton's government suffered from some allegations of corruption, and political embarrassment. In 1996 his Minister for Transport, Michael Lowry
Michael Lowry
Michael Lowry is an Irish politician. He is currently a Teachta Dála for the Tipperary North constituency and continues to enjoy high popularity in his constituency despite being the subject of a criminal investigation resulting from various scandals while in office.-Local government and...

, resigned from the Cabinet after allegations that he had not paid income tax on payments from the supermarket tycoon, Ben Dunne
Ben Dunne
Ben Dunne is an Irish entrepreneur and former director of his family firm, Dunnes Stores, one of the largest chains of department stores in Ireland. In 1981, he was kidnapped by the IRA and held for seven days...

 for work he had done for him as a businessman prior to becoming a minister. His minister of state in the Department of Finance also resigned, on 9 February 1995, as a result of leaks from the department. Additionally, many years later Frank Dunlop
Frank Dunlop
Frank Dunlop is an Irish lobbyist and former broadcast journalist with Raidió Teilifís Éireann . Originally from County Kilkenny, he is a key witness to the Mahon Tribunal which is investigating improper payments by property developers to Irish politicians and will be a key witness in pending...

 made allegations before the planning tribunal that he had informed Bruton about demands for a £250,000 bribe made to him by a Fine Gael Dublin councillor, Tom Hand, in order to rezone the Quarryvale development. Dunlop testified that when he informed Bruton of the bribery attempts, Bruton replied, "There are no angels in the world or in Fine Gael". Bruton vehemently denied this and Fine Gael counsel told the Planning Tribunal in 2003: "I refute entirely Mr Dunlop's contention that he advised me then of the alleged demand made to him by the late Tom Hand". However, following further evidence at the Tribunal, Bruton returned to it in October 2007 and conceded that "it gradually came back to me", that Dunlop, "did say to me something about a councillor looking for money". But, in his own evidence to the tribunal in 2007, Dunlop himself said that he had not mentioned any figure of 250,000 to Bruton in his 1993 conversation with him.

Bruton presided over the first official visit by a member of the British Royal Family
British Royal Family
The British Royal Family is the group of close relatives of the monarch of the United Kingdom. The term is also commonly applied to the same group of people as the relations of the monarch in her or his role as sovereign of any of the other Commonwealth realms, thus sometimes at variance with...

 since 1912, the Prince of Wales
Charles, Prince of Wales
Prince Charles, Prince of Wales is the heir apparent and eldest son of Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh. Since 1958 his major title has been His Royal Highness The Prince of Wales. In Scotland he is additionally known as The Duke of Rothesay...

. His welcome speech to Prince Charles was viewed by many journalists negatively in Ireland. In Britain, The Times
The Times
The Times is a British daily national newspaper, first published in London in 1785 under the title The Daily Universal Register . The Times and its sister paper The Sunday Times are published by Times Newspapers Limited, a subsidiary since 1981 of News International...

 of London accused him of being "embarrassingly effusive" while The Guardian
The Guardian
The Guardian, formerly known as The Manchester Guardian , is a British national daily newspaper in the Berliner format...

 lambasted that Bruton get a grip on his "extravagantly nonsensical attitudes". Bruton himself viewed the fact that the heir to the British throne could visit the Republic successfully, as marking an important turning point in Anglo Irish relations and stands over the comments he made as appropriate in the circumstances.

Following the murder of crime journalist Veronica Guerin
Veronica Guerin
Veronica Guerin was an Irish crime reporter who was murdered on 26 June 1996 by drug lords, an event which, alongside the murder of Detective Garda Jerry McCabe three weeks earlier, helped establish the Criminal Assets Bureau....

, his government established the Criminal Assets Bureau
Criminal Assets Bureau
The Criminal Assets Bureau is a law enforcement agency in Ireland, the purpose of which is to recover the proceeds of organised crime. It is a division of the Garda , but reports annually to the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform...

.

Post-Taoiseach period



The government was widely expected to win re-election in 1997. While Fine Gael gained nine seats, Labour was severely mauled, losing 16 seats. This left Bruton far short of the parliamentary support he needed to retain office, and he resigned. A Fianna Fáil–Progressive Democrat coalition led by Bertie Ahern
Bertie Ahern
Patrick Bartholomew "Bertie" Ahern is a former Irish politician who served as Taoiseach of Ireland from 26 June 1997 to 7 May 2008....

 came into power, with Bruton reverting to leadership of the opposition.

Fine Gael became paralysed in opposition. Bruton was deposed from leadership in 2001 in favour of Michael Noonan
Michael Noonan
Michael Noonan is an Irish Fine Gael politician and has been the Minister for Finance since March 2011. He has been a Teachta Dála for the Limerick East and later Limerick City constituencies since 1981....

, due in part to fears Fine Gael would suffer severe losses in the 2002 election
Irish general election, 2002
The Irish general election of 2002 was held on Friday, 17 May 2002 just over three weeks after the dissolution of the 28th Dáil on Thursday 25 April by President Mary McAleese, at the request of the Taoiseach, Bertie Ahern...

. 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. This not only tied Fine Gael's second-worst performance in an election, but was 39 seats less than at its highpoint twenty years earlier in 1982.

Bruton, a passionate supporter of European integration
European integration
European integration is the process of industrial, political, legal, economic integration of states wholly or partially in Europe...

, was chosen as one of the two Irish Parliament Representatives to the European Convention which helped draft the proposed European Constitution. He was one of two National Parliament Representatives to sit on the 12-member Praesidium, which helped steer the European Convention. He is a member of the Comite d'Honneur of the Institute of European Affairs, along with Peter Sutherland
Peter Sutherland
Peter Denis Sutherland, KCMG is an Irish international businessman and former Attorney General of Ireland, associated with the Fine Gael party . He is a barrister by profession, and is also Senior Counsel at the Irish Bar...

 and Bertie Ahern
Bertie Ahern
Patrick Bartholomew "Bertie" Ahern is a former Irish politician who served as Taoiseach of Ireland from 26 June 1997 to 7 May 2008....

. He accepted an offer to become European Union
European Union
The European Union is an economic and political union of 27 independent member states which are located primarily in Europe. The EU traces its origins from the European Coal and Steel Community and the European Economic Community , formed by six countries in 1958...

 ambassador to the United States
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

 in the summer of 2004, and after resigning from the Dáil on 31 October 2004, he assumed that office. Bruton was praised by Ahern, who said Bruton had played "a pivotal role in developing Ireland’s relations with the European Union."

Bruton received an Honorary Doctorate from Memorial University of Newfoundland
Memorial University of Newfoundland
Memorial University of Newfoundland, is a comprehensive university located primarily in St...

 in 2003 and from the University of Missouri
University of Missouri
The University of Missouri System is a state university system providing centralized administration for four universities, a health care system, an extension program, five research and technology parks, and a publishing press. More than 64,000 students are currently enrolled at its four campuses...

 in 2009.

He became an Honorary Patron of the University Philosophical Society before leaving for the US in 2004. He regularly lectures at national and international universities. In early 2004 he accepted a position as Adjunct Faculty Member in the School of Law and Government at Dublin City University
Dublin City University
Dublin City University is a university situated between Glasnevin, Santry, Ballymun and Whitehall on the Northside of Dublin in Ireland...

. In November 2008, he received the Order of the Polar Star
Order of the Polar Star
The Order of the Polar Star is a Swedish order of chivalry created by King Frederick I of Sweden on 23 February 1748, together with the Order of the Sword and the Order of the Seraphim....

 award from the Swedish government.

His brother, Richard Bruton
Richard Bruton
Richard Bruton is an Irish Fine Gael politician and has been a Teachta Dála for the Dublin North Central constituency since 1982. He was appointed as Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation on 9 March 2011...

, was formerly deputy leader of Fine Gael.

On 29 October 2009 it was announced that he had written to the ambassadors to the United States of the 27 members of the European Union expressing his interest in applying for the position of president of the European Council following implementation of the Lisbon Treaty. Bruton was very much an outside shot for the position as EU leaders firmly indicated they want a chairman-style president rather than a high-profile figurehead to fill the post. Herman Van Rompuy
Herman Van Rompuy
Herman Achille Van Rompuy is the first long-term and full-time President of the European Council...

, the then Belgian Prime Minister, was appointed President on 19 November 2009 and took office on 1 December 2009.

On 21 May 2010, it was announced that he would be the chairman of the newly-formed financial services body, IFSC Ireland. His main role will be to promote the Republic of Ireland as a location of choice for international financial services.

Bruton was widely discussed as a candidate for the 2011 presidential election and was approached by Fine Gael with the opportunity to become their candidate; on 28 May 2011, however, Bruton issued a statement that he was "flattered" to be asked, but would not be a candidate for the presidency.

Bruton receives annual pension payments of €141,849.

Government

  • 24th Government of Ireland (December 1994–June 1997)

External links