Open main menu

The Leader of Fine Gael is the most senior politician within the Fine Gael political party in Ireland. Since 2 June 2017, the office has been held by Leo Varadkar following the resignation of Enda Kenny.

Leader of Fine Gael
Leo Varadkar 2016.jpg
Incumbent
Leo Varadkar TD

since 2 June 2017
Inaugural holderEoin O'Duffy
Formation8 September 1933
DeputySimon Coveney[1]
WebsiteLeo Varadkar, TD

The Deputy Leader of Fine Gael is Simon Coveney.[2]

Contents

BackgroundEdit

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.

Cosgrave retired as leader before the 1944 general election, and was succeeded by Richard Mulcahy. Mulcahy was then a 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) was 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, former Attorney General John A. Costello becoming Taoiseach; Mulcahy served instead as Minister for Education. Between 1948 and 1959, 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 to 1977. 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 from December 1982 to March 1987. FitzGerald resigned in 1987 after losing that year's general election, and was replaced by Alan Dukes. After Fine Gael failure in 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 to 1997 in a Rainbow coalition with the Labour Party and Democratic Left. Bruton was deposed from the leadership in 2001, in favour of Michael Noonan; this was due in part to fears that 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 won only 31 seats. On the night of the election 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 frontbench positions. When Fine Gael is in opposition the Leader would usually act as the Leader of the Opposition, and chair the Opposition front bench. Conversely, when the party is in government, the Leader would usually become Taoiseach, as well as appointing the cabinet.

LeadersEdit

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)
1934 1944
3 Richard Mulcahy
[nb 3][nb 4]
  Tipperary 1944 1959
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 (1959–66)
5 Liam Cosgrave   Dún Laoghaire and Rathdown 1965 1977 Jack Lynch (1966–73)
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)
8 John Bruton   Meath 1990 2001
Albert Reynolds (1992–94)
John Bruton (1994–97)
Bertie Ahern (1997–2008)
9 Michael Noonan   Limerick East 2001 2002
10 Enda Kenny[nb 6]   Mayo 2002 2017
Brian Cowen (2008–11)
Enda Kenny (2011–17)
11 Leo Varadkar   Dublin West 2017
Leo Varadkar (2017–present)

Deputy leadersEdit

The Deputy leader of Fine Gael is a senior politician within the Fine Gael political party in Ireland. The post is currently held by Simon Coveney, who was appointed deputy on 13 June 2017.

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 14 September 1977
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
Tánaiste
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 16 May 2017 Spokesperson on Health
Minister for Health
Minister for Children and Youth Affairs
Senator
Simon Coveney   Cork South-Central 13 June 2017 Incumbent Minister for Housing, Planning, Community and Local Government
Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade
Tánaiste

See alsoEdit

NotesEdit

  1. ^ The office of head of government was the President of the Executive Council from 1922 to 1937.
  2. ^ O'Duffy did not hold a seat in the Oireachtas while he was party leader.
  3. ^ While Mulcahy was a member of the Seanad in 1944, Tom O'Higgins acted as parliamentary party leader.
  4. ^ Between 1948 and 1959, John A. Costello served as parliamentary party leader.
  5. ^ 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.
  6. ^ Following the announcement of a Fine Gael leadership election in 2017, Enda Kenny acted as interim parliamentary party leader until the election of Leo Varadkar.

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ Leo Varadkar [@campaignforleo] (13 June 2017). "Delighted to appoint @simoncoveney as Deputy Leader of @finegael. Together we will guide FG's role in Govt and re-energise the party" (Tweet) – via Twitter.
  2. ^ Leo Varadkar [@campaignforleo] (13 June 2017). "Delighted to appoint @simoncoveney as Deputy Leader of @finegael. Together we will guide FG's role in Govt and re-energise the party" (Tweet) – via Twitter.