Eamon Gilmore (born 24 April 1955) is an Irish Labour Party politician who has served as European Union Special Representative for Human Rights since February 2019. He previously served as European Union Special Representative for the Colombian Peace Process from 2015 to 2019, Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade from 2011 to 2014, Leader of the Labour Party from 2007 to 2014, Chair of the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe from 2012 to 2013, Minister of State at the Department of the Marine from 1994 to 1997. He was a Teachta Dála (TD) for the Dún Laoghaire constituency from 1989 to 2016.
|European Union Special Representative for Human Rights|
|Assumed office |
1 March 2019
|Preceded by||Stavros Lambrinidis|
|European Union Special Representative for the Colombian Peace Process|
1 October 2015 – 19 February 2019
|Preceded by||New office|
|Succeeded by||Office abolished|
9 March 2011 – 4 July 2014
|Preceded by||Mary Coughlan|
|Succeeded by||Joan Burton|
|Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade|
9 March 2011 – 11 July 2014
|Preceded by||Brian Cowen (Foreign Affairs)|
Mary Hanafin (Enterprise, Trade and Innovation)
|Succeeded by||Charles Flanagan|
|Leader of the Labour Party|
6 September 2007 – 4 July 2014
|Preceded by||Pat Rabbitte|
|Succeeded by||Joan Burton|
|Chair of the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe|
1 January 2012 – 18 December 2013
|Preceded by||Audronius Ažubalis|
|Succeeded by||Leonid Kozhara|
|Minister of State at the Department of the Marine|
20 December 1994 – 26 June 1997
|Preceded by||Gerry O'Sullivan|
|Succeeded by||Hugh Byrne|
June 1989 – February 2016
|Born||24 April 1955|
Caltra, County Galway, Ireland
|Political party||Labour Party (1999–present)|
|Democratic Left (1992–99)|
Workers' Party (1975–92)
|Spouse(s)||Carol Hanney (m. 1993)|
|Alma mater||University College Galway|
At the 2011 general election he led the Labour Party to its best electoral performance, with a record 37 Dáil seats. Labour entered into a coalition government with Fine Gael, with Gilmore being appointed Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade.
As Minister for Foreign Affairs he led Ireland's seventh presidency of the European Council during the first half of 2013, and took on the role of chief negotiator for the Council in talks with the European Parliament on a €960 billion EU budget for the period 2014–2020. Throughout 2012, he held the role of Chairperson-In-Office of the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE).
Born in County Galway, Gilmore graduated from University College Galway, becoming President of the Union of Students in Ireland. Later, he entered local politics as a trade union organiser. As a Democratic Left TD, he helped to negotiate that party's merger with Labour. He was beaten by his colleague Pat Rabbitte in Labour's 2002 leadership election, following which he was appointed as the party's Environment, Housing and Local Government spokesperson. Gilmore was elected unopposed as Labour Party leader in 2007; he resigned the post in July 2014, and was succeeded by Joan Burton.
Early life and careerEdit
Eamon Gilmore was born into a small farming family in Caltra, County Galway in 1955. When he was 14 months old his father died, leaving his mother to run the mixed farm and raise Gilmore and his younger brother John.
Gilmore received his primary education in Caltra, in a small two-teacher national school. He was taught there through the medium of Irish, and he is a fluent Irish speaker to this day. Following his sixth-year state primary exam, he qualified for a scholarship from Galway County Council which enabled him to attend secondary school. He entered Garbally College, Ballinasloe, as a boarder in 1967.
Availing himself of a third-level grant to fund his degree, he went on to study psychology at University College Galway (UCG). He was an active member of the Drama Society at the university, where his contemporaries included the theatre director Garry Hynes and actor Marie Mullen who both went on to found the Druid Theatre Company. He also took part in the university debating scene, mainly through the Literary and Debating Society.
A threat from the Psychology Department to scrap the psychology course altogether because of a funding shortage, and transfer the students to University College Dublin, propelled Gilmore towards student activism.
He was elected class representative and later, at the age of 18, was elected President of UCG Students' Union in which position he served from July 1974 to June 1975. In 1975, towards the end of his term of office, he joined the UCG Republican Club which was affiliated to Official Sinn Féin; that party was subsequently renamed Sinn Féin – The Workers' Party, and later still became the Workers' Party. In recent years he has been accused of being evasive on the subject and of trying to play down that he had joined the Official Republican Movement; he has stated that the party "was in the process of becoming the Workers' Party at that time, I can't recall exactly the dates". Using both names, the Workers' Party's links throughout the 1970s with the Official Irish Republican Army, a proscribed paramilitary organisation, are well established.
Prior to establishing a career in politics, he worked as a trade union organiser. He joined the Irish Transport & General Workers' Union (now SIPTU) in 1978 and, after brief spells in Dublin No. 4 (Hotels & Catering) and Dublin No. 14 (Engineering) Branches, was rapidly promoted to become Acting Secretary of the Galway Branch (1978–79), Secretary of the Tralee Branch (1979–81), and of the Professional & Managerial Staffs Branch (1981–89). He was heavily involved in organising tax protests in Galway, and resisting redundancies and closures in Kerry.
Gilmore has described the driving factors which have informed his working life, whether as a trade union officer or public representative. "I like advocating. I love to share in the joy people get out of cracking it, getting the job or getting some right they should have. I get huge satisfaction out of working for improvements and seeing those come through".
He described his beliefs during an interview, saying, "I'm agnostic. I doubt rather than I believe, let me put it that way". He also said "I'm pro-choice" when asked during the same interview if abortion should be legalised.
Gilmore was elected to Dún Laoghaire Borough Council, and also to Dublin County Council, on 22 June 1985. He was first elected to Dáil Éireann at the 1989 general election as a member of the Workers' Party for the constituency of Dún Laoghaire, and was re-elected at every subsequent general election until his retirement from the Dáil in 2016.
After the collapse of the Soviet Union, he was linked with Proinsias De Rossa in attempting to jettison some of the Workers' Party's Marxist aspect and to move the party towards an acceptance of free-market economics. Media accusations had once again surfaced regarding the continued existence of the Official IRA who, it was alleged, remained armed and involved in fund-raising robberies, money laundering and other forms of criminality.
In an attempt to address these issues Gilmore and De Rossa along with their supporters sought to distance themselves from alleged paramilitary activity at a special Ardfheis held at Dún Laoghaire on 15 February 1992. A motion proposed by De Rossa and general secretary Des Geraghty sought to stand down the existing membership, elect an 11-member provisional executive council and make several other significant changes in party structures was defeated. The following day at an Ard Chomhairle meeting, Gilmore resigned from the Workers' Party and joined with Proinsias De Rossa and five other Workers' Party TDs to create a new political party, Democratic Left (originally known as New Agenda).
In the 'Rainbow Coalition', between 1994 and 1997, Gilmore served as Minister of State at the Department of the Marine where he is credited for overseeing major reform in port ownership, investment in port development, banning nuclear vessels from Irish seas and restricting dumping at sea.
From 2002 to 2007, he sat on the Labour Party front bench as Environment, Housing and Local Government Spokesperson.
Around this time, Gilmore voiced his support for the Campaign for the Establishment of a United Nations Parliamentary Assembly, an organisation which campaigns for democratic reformation of the United Nations, and the creation of a more accountable international political system.
Labour Party leaderEdit
Following Pat Rabbitte's resignation as party leader in August 2007, Gilmore announced his candidacy for the leadership. He received support from senior figures such as Michael D. Higgins, Ruairi Quinn, Willie Penrose, Liz McManus and Emmet Stagg, and did not have to contest a ballot, being formally confirmed as leader on 6 September, after being the only declared candidate. He became the tenth leader of the Labour Party.
From early on in his Leadership Gilmore insisted that Labour should aspire to lead the next Government and set about building Labour as a third option for voters. At the 2009 local elections, the Labour Party added to its total of council seats, with 132 seats won (a gain of 43) and by July 2010 had gained an additional six seats from councillors joining the party since the election. On Dublin City Council, the party was again the largest party, but now with more seats than the two other main parties combined.
At the 2009 European Parliament election held on the same day, the Labour Party increased its number of seats from 1 to 3, retaining the seat of Proinsias De Rossa in the Dublin constituency, while gaining seats in the East constituency with Nessa Childers, and in the South constituency with Alan Kelly.
Initially Gilmore was in favour of the 2008 first Lisbon Treaty referendum. When it was lost, he declared that the "Lisbon Treaty is dead". According to a wikileaks cable dated 23 July 2008 and released in 2011, he told the US Ambassador privately that he would support a second referendum. The Ambassador reported that: "He explained his public posture of opposition to a second referendum as 'politically necessary' for the time being". In 2009, the Lisbon Treaty proposal was passed by the Twenty-eighth Amendment of the Constitution of Ireland.
In September 2009, at the Labour Parliamentary Party Meeting in Waterford, Gilmore categorically ruled out a coalition with Fianna Fáil after the next general election, reiterating what he had said in earlier interviews.
In his leader's address to the 2010 Labour Party Conference (17 April 2010), Gilmore outlined his vision that the Labour Party should lead the way in building 'One Ireland'. In this speech, he listed the Labour Party's policy priorities as Jobs, Reform and Fairness. He also said he was determined that the Labour Party would run enough candidates at the next general election to enable the Irish people to make Labour the largest party in the Dáil and to lead the next government.
In July 2010, Gilmore again ruled out a coalition between his party and Fianna Fáil after a general election, even if such a coalition would put him in a position to become Taoiseach. Gilmore also said his party was well-positioned to win at least one seat in each of the country's 43 constituencies, and two seats in some constituencies in Dublin, Cork, other urban areas and commuter-belt counties. In all, he said the party had the potential to win 50 seats or more.
Throughout his political career, Gilmore has worked for peace in Northern Ireland. Along with other prominent figures including Proinsias de Rossa and Eamon Dunphy, Gilmore was among the first organisers of the 'Peace Train' campaign which was started in 1989 in response to the repeated bombing of the Dublin to Belfast railway by the Provisional IRA. Northern Ireland was also a priority for Gilmore as Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade during which time his efforts to reach out to the unionist community in particular were acknowledged.
Gilmore also played a leading role in the modernisation and liberalisation of Ireland's social legislation, most notably on divorce and abortion, and has been to the fore in the campaign for gay marriage. He is often quoted for citing gay marriage as "the civil rights issue of this generation". Gilmore also made a commitment to hold a constitutional referendum on the issue a key plank of the Labour/Fine Gael programme for government. A referendum on gay marriage was held in 2015. He was a member of the cabinet committee that steered through Ireland's divorce legislation in 1996, as well as a member of the Divorce Action Group which campaigned for the legalisation of divorce in Ireland. In 1983, Gilmore campaigned against the ban on abortion in the Constitution.
As Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade, Gilmore was behind the most significant expansion of Ireland's embassy network for several decades, opening eight new diplomatic missions across Europe, Asia, Africa and the Americas in 2014. Despite considerable media focus on the reopening of the embassy to the Vatican, which had been closed for economic reasons in 2011 along with the embassy to Tehran, the new missions are largely trade and investment-focussed.
In 2013, Gilmore launched the first review of Irish foreign policy since 1996.
Gilmore has also been a member of the first Economic Management Council (EMC), along with Taoiseach Enda Kenny, Minister for Finance, Michael Noonan, and Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform, Brendan Howlin, since March 2011. For the first three years of the Fine Gael/Labour government, the EMC was regarded as the lynchpin of the coalition's stability.
2011 general electionEdit
Gilmore led Labour to the best electoral performance in the party's 99-year history at the 2011 general election, in which he offered voters a choice of "Frankfurt's Way or Labour's Way". The party won 37 seats. It did especially well in Dublin, taking 18 seats to become the largest party in the capital. Gilmore topped the poll in the Dún Laoghaire constituency.
Tánaiste and government minister (2011–14)Edit
Following the election, Labour entered coalition with Fine Gael. Gilmore became Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade. He appointed four Ministers to the Cabinet, six Ministers of State and Máire Whelan as Attorney General of Ireland. He also recreated the office of the Tánaiste within the Department of the Taoiseach to enhance his control over Government policy. This office was originally created under Tánaiste Dick Spring in 1992, but was abolished by his successor Mary Harney.
Troika bailout exitEdit
On 15 December 2013, Ireland became the first eurozone country to exit a €67.5 billion EU/IMF bailout programme following a multi-year austerity programme. The so-called 'troika' bailout was triggered in November 2010 following the collapse of the Irish property market collapsed which in turn had pushed the country's banks into financial crisis.
A blanket guarantee on all of the liabilities of the Irish banks – established by the previous Fianna Fáil/Green Party Coalition in September 2008 – dragged the State to near bankruptcy and forced the government to turn to the EU/IMF as lenders of last resort.
In November 2014, the Government announced that it would exit the EU/IMF bailout programme without seeking a precautionary credit line, often referred to as a 'clean bailout exit'. In an interview with RTÉ's Morning Ireland radio programme on November 15, Gilmore explained that the Government had conducted a long process of consultation with international institutions and other EU member states before making the decision to exit the bailout cleanly. He also pointed to the existence of a €20 billion "backstop" of reserve funding held by the National Treasury Management Agency that could fund the Irish State up until the beginning of 2015 if so required.
On 11 November 2012, Gilmore became the first Irish Government Minister to take part in the annual Remembrance Sunday ceremony in Belfast when he laid a laurel wreath at the Cenotaph at Belfast City Hall to honour those who had died in the First and Second World Wars. He attended the ceremony again the following year.
In September 2013, he was seen[by whom?] to have broken "new political ground" when in a speech to the British Irish Association in Cambridge, "he went out of his way to address a unionist perception of a failure by a number of Irish governments to properly combat the IRA". In the same speech, he also said he hoped that the Government of Ireland could "host representatives of the royal family and the British government, along with the leaders of unionism, in Dublin in three years' time in remembering the Easter Rising". He was part of the process which aimed at resolving issues relating to parading, flags and emblems, and the past that was chaired by US diplomat Richard Haass from September to December 2013, and he maintained contact with the parties involved until he was replaced as foreign affairs minister in a cabinet reshuffle the following year.
On 1 January 2012, Ireland assumed the 2012 chair of the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OCSE) for the first time. In his role as Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade, Gilmore served as the Chairman-in-Office of the OSCE.
EU Presidency and budget negotiationsEdit
As Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade, Gilmore led Ireland's seventh Presidency of the Council of the European Union during the first half of 2013. He chaired the General Affairs Council of the European Union (EU) and acted as lead negotiator for the Council in talks with the European Parliament on a €960 billion, seven-year budget deal – also known as a Multi-Annual Financial Framework (MFF) – for the EU for the period 2014–2020.
Ireland's diplomatic networkEdit
In November 2011, Gilmore announced the closure of Ireland's embassies in Iran and the Vatican, and a representative office in East-Timor, on economic grounds. Ireland was to retain an ambassador to the Holy See who would reside in Ireland rather than Rome. In January 2014, he announced that eight new diplomatic missions would be opened around the world, focussing mainly on trade and investment.
Undocumented Irish citizens in the USEdit
As Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade, Gilmore lobbied for comprehensive legislation overhauling US immigration laws to help an estimated 11 million illegal immigrants, over 50,000 of whom are believed to be Irish. On 17 June 2014, Gilmore travelled to Washington D.C. for two days of meetings, most of which focused on Republican members of the House of Representatives.
Croke Park agreementEdit
In December,[clarification needed] Gilmore once again put his support behind the Croke Park Deal on public sector pay and conditions. The dismissal of a renegotiation of the deal came in light of Communications Minister Pat Rabbitte's comments that the deal could be renegotiated along with calls from junior Fine Gael TDs that the agreement should be scrapped.
Retirement from domestic politicsEdit
On 2 June 2015, Gilmore announced his retirement from domestic politics, and that he would not be contesting the 2016 general election. He later took up a role at the European Union as EU Special Envoy to the Colombian Peace Process.
European Union Special RepresentativeEdit
On 1 October 2015, following his retirement from domestic politics in Ireland, Gilmore was appointed by President of the European Commission, Jean-Claude Juncker as European Union Special Representative for the Colombian Peace Process. Gilmore predominantly based at the European Union embassy in Bogota where, Irish officials say, he brought particular insights from the Northern Ireland peace process to his work. His record and highly regarded standing as a former foreign minister are understood to have stood him in good stead for the nomination to the post.
On 19 February 2019, the High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Federica Mogherini nominated Eamon Gilmore to be European Union Special Representative for Human Rights. His nomination was approved by the Foreign Affairs Council on 20 February 2019.
- COUNCIL DECISION (CFSP) 2019/346 of 28 February 2019 appointing the European Union Special Representative for Human Rights
- "Eamon Gilmore set for Foreign Affairs". RTÉ News. 8 March 2011.
- "Eamon Gilmore". Oireachtas Members Database. Retrieved 19 June 2009.
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- Butler, Kate, Sunday Times Home Ireland Magazine. Time and Place Eamon Gilmore. 16 March 2008.
- Kelly, Ken, Connacht Tribune. Gilmore back on familiar turf for Garbally return. 4 June 2010.
- McGarry, Patsy, Cois Coirbe Memory Lane. Alumni Office NUI Galway, 2008.
- Irish Daily Mail. The Accidental TD. 7 September 2007.
- Eamon Gilmore interviewed on the 'Marian Finucane Show' on RTÉ Radio One, October 2010.
- "Irish Labour leader evasive on former links with Sinn Féin". Belfast Telegraph. 6 October 2010. Archived from the original on 19 July 2012. Cite uses deprecated parameter
- Hanley, Brian and Millar, Scott, The Story of the Official IRA and the Workers' Party, 2009.
- McDonald, Brian; Kelly, Fiach (1 November 2010). "How power couple rose to pole position in public life". Irish Independent.
- Devine, Francis, Organising History, A Centenary in Siptu. Gill and McMillan, 2009.
- Crowley, Niall (9 July 2010). "Interview Eamon Gilmore – Equality for the Majority". The Village.
- Calder, John (10 July 2010). "Larry King". The Marian Finucane Show, RTÉ Radio One.[permanent dead link]
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- Proinsias De Rossa, 'The case for a new departure Making Sense', March–April 1992.
- BBC Spotlight programme, 'Sticking to their guns', June 1991.
- Sean Garland, 'Beware of hidden agendas', Making Sense March–April 1992.
- "Brian Dowling looks back Eamon Gilmore's path to political Leadership". RTÉ News. 6 September 2007.[permanent dead link]
- "Supporters". Campaign for a UN Parliamentary Assembly. Retrieved 21 September 2017.
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- "Gilmore 'took opposing views in public and in private'". Irish Independent. 1 June 2011. Retrieved 1 February 2012.
- "Gilmore rules out coalition with FF after election". The Irish Times. 10 September 2009.(subscription required)
- "One Ireland: Gilmore addresses Labour Conference". Labour Party. 17 April 2010. Archived from the original on 5 March 2012. Cite uses deprecated parameter
- "Gilmore rules out FF coalition". The Irish Times. 21 July 2010. (subscription required)
- http://www.irishtimes.com/news/politics/unionist-politicians-sit-up-in-cambridge-as-gilmore-majors-with-timely-offer-and-powerful-delivery-1.1520423 (subscription required)
- http://www.irishtimes.com/news/politics/oireachtas/gilmore-appalled-and-saddened-by-smithwick-findings-1.1616729 (subscription required)
- http://www.irishtimes.com/news/politics/referendum-on-same-sex-marriage-to-be-held-in-2015-1.1584350 (subscription required)
- "Gilmore: Gay marriage 'the civil rights issue of this generation' - BreakingNews.ie". breakingnews.ie. July 2012. Retrieved 9 August 2015.
- Asia Briefing: Expansion of Irish missions recognises importance of Asia Irish Times, 2014-03-04. (subscription required)
- Gilmore announces 'complete review' of State's foreign policy Irish Times, 2013-11-13. (subscription required)
- Success or failure in meeting bailout targets will be crucial test of economic body Irish Times, 2012-08-17.
- Need to govern with more heart, says Joan Burton RTÉ News, 2014-07-04.
- Eamon Gilmore resigns as Tanaiste Irish Independent, 2014-07-04.
- Fitzgerald, Mary (13 July 2011). "Kenny appoints second secretary general". The Irish Times. (subscription required)
- Sheahan, Fionnan (18 July 2011). "Gilmore gains more say over policy as he expands his role". Irish Independent.
- "Chapter 10: Ireland and the Troika Programme | Report of the Joint Committee of Inquiry into the Banking Crisis". Retrieved 21 March 2019.
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- Eamon Gilmore to lay wreath at Belfast Remembrance event RTÉ News, 2012-11-09.
- Taoiseach, Tánaiste mark Remembrance Sunday RTÉ News, 2013-11-10.
- http://www.irishtimes.com/news/politics/state-willing-to-act-on-unionist-claims-over-ira-gilmore-1.1520539 (subscription required)
- "British royal family invited to Easter Rising 100th anniversary - BreakingNews.ie". breakingnews.ie. 7 September 2013. Retrieved 9 August 2015.
- http://www.irishtimes.com/news/politics/north-s-talks-face-challenge-to-address-survivor-concerns-1.1540919 (subscription required)
- Draft peace plan for Northern Ireland published online Irish Times, 2014-01-01. (subscription required)
- Intensive talks on Haass proposals to take place later this month Irish Times, 2014-06-09.
- Dublin and London want NI parties back in talks Irish Times, 6 May 2014.
- Gilmore and Haass to speak about 'window' for NI talks Irish Times, 5 May 2014.
- Fitzgerald, Mary (2 January 2012). "Ireland takes over chair of OSCE". The Irish Times. (subscription required)
- Gilmore will present EU budget amid MEP resistance Irish Times, 2013-06-25. (subscription required)
- Gilmore: Irish prominent in breaking deadlock on €960bn euro budget Irish Independent, 2013-05-06.
- "Irish embassy to the Vatican to be closed". RTÉ News. 3 November 2011. Retrieved 3 November 2011.
- Embassy shake-up targets emerging export markets Irish Independent, 2014-01-22.
- http://www.irishtimes.com/news/ireland/irish-news/gilmore-pushes-for-us-immigration-reform-at-critical-time-1.1460855 (subscription required)
- "Gilmore holds out hope to expats - Irish Examiner". irishexaminer.com. 27 September 2013. Retrieved 9 August 2015.
- Eamon Gilmore in US today for talks on immigration reform Irish Times, 2014-06-17.
- Gilmore 'optimistic' US Congress will pass immigration reform Irish Times, 2014-06-18.
- US perceives need for immigration reform, says Tánaiste Irish Times, 2014-07-03.
- Minihan, Mary; Carr, Aoife (12 December 2011). "Coalition not trying to 'unpick' deal". The Irish Times. (subscription required)
- "Eamon Gilmore to retire from politics at next election". The Irish Times. 2 June 2015. Retrieved 2 June 2015.
- "EU will support Peace Process in Colombia with Special Envoy Eamon Gilmore". European Union External Action. Retrieved 1 February 2018.
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| Workers' Party Teachta Dála
for Dún Laoghaire
| Democratic Left Teachta Dála
for Dún Laoghaire
| Labour Party Teachta Dála
for Dún Laoghaire
| Minister of State at the Department of the Marine
as Minister for Foreign Affairs
| Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade
as Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Innovation
|Party political offices|
| Leader of the Labour Party