John Bruton: Biography highlights

John Bruton is known for his role as leader of the Irish political party Fine Gael. He was Ireland’s Taoiseach between 1994 and 1997. He is known for his commitment to the European Union.

Full biography

  • Former Irish Prime Minister (Taoiseach) (1994-1997)
  • Former Irish Finance Minister (1981/2 and 1986/7)
  • Former President in Office of the European Council (1996)
  • Ambassador of the European Union to the United States (2004-2009)

Speaking Style

  • Educational and formal.

John can speak on international trade issues based on his experience as Ambassador in Washington. He is also an expert on Brexit and have published widely on the topic.

An experienced politician and an expert on Irish and European politics, John can educate, inform and inspire audiences.

Early Life

John Gerard Bruton was born in County Meath on the 18th of May 1947 to a Catholic family. He attended Clongowes Wood College, a boys boarding school in County Kildare. He went on to study for a B.A. at University College Dublin, before qualifying as a barrister with the Honourable Society of King’s Inns.

Early Political Career

At the age of 22, Bruton was elected as Fine Gael TD for Meath (becoming a member of Dail Eireann). Success in his role saw him appointed to Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Industry and Commerce and to the Minister for Education by the National Coalition in 1973, a role which he occupied for four years.

In 1977, Bruton became Spokesperson on Agriculture, following the defeat of Fine Gael during the general election. He was then promoted to the shadow Finance portfolio.

Finance Minister

In the 1981 general election, Bruton was heavily involved with Fine Gael’s campaign, assisting them to their place in a coalition with the Labour Party. At the age of 34, Bruton became the Minister for Finance.

The economic situation at the time meant that the coalition government , which had no majority,had to introduce a severe controversial budget. As a result Fine Gael lost power in January1982.

When the coalition returned to power in November of the same year, Bruton was initially made Minister for Industry and Energy and then Minister for Industry, Trade, Commerce and Tourism. In 1986, he returned to his previous role as Minister for Finance, though disagreements relating to his budget caused a rift between Fine Gael and the Labour Party, eventually resulting in another election.

Leadership of Fine Gael Bruton first became a candidate for the role of leader of Fine Gael in 1987, following the party’s defeat and the resignation of Garret FitzGerald. He lost out on the spot to Alan Dukes, becoming deputy leader. When the party was defeated in 1990 in a Presidential Election, Bruton became the party’s leader.

As leader of the party, Bruton was often pigeon-holed by the opposition and the media as a more right wing individual than his predecessor. On this basis, some of his actions surprised the public, including his policy to introduce and pass a referendum to allow divorce in Ireland. Despite Brutons policies, Fine Gael lost out to a Labour coalition with Fianna Fail in the 1992 election. In 1994, Bruton was able to form a government with the Labour Party and Democratic Left after the previous Fianna Fail/Labour coalition government collapsed. At the age of 47, Bruton became one of the youngest Taoisigh in Irish history up to that time.

Taoiseach Bruton was Taoiseach between 1994 and 1997 and became known for his moderate views (identifying with non violent approach of the Irish Parliamentary Party). His relationships with the UK and his contribution to the Northern Ireland Peace Process are some of the aspects of his tenure which are most well remembered.

During Brutons time as Taoiseach, the British Royal Family made an official visit to Ireland since 1912, a sign of improved relationships. In 1997, while Fine Gael gained seats, the party lost government because of greater seat losses by its partners in the Labour Party.

In 2011 Fine Gael invited Bruton to stand as a candidate for the Presidency of Ireland, he declined their offer.

Post Taoiseach Career

Bruton remained the leader of Fine Gael until 2001. His support of European integration saw him become one of the Irish Parliament Representatives to the European Convention. After resigning from the Dail Eireann in 2004, he became the European Union Ambassador to the USA.

As an experienced politician and former leader, Bruton often lectures at universities all over the world.

From 2010 to 2015, Bruton became the Chairman of IFSC Ireland, which aimed to develop Irelands financial services industries.

In 2011, he became an advisor to the journal Fair Observer, specialising in finance, economics and politics. He is on the board of the Centre for European Policy Studies. He is a visiting fellow at the European Institute in the London School of Economics. He hold a number of commercial directorships.

Accolades

  • Comite d’Honneur of the Institute of European Affairs, member
  • University Philosophical Society, Honorary Patron
  • Memorial University of Newfoundland, Honorary Doctorate
  • University of Missouri, Honorary Doctorate
  • Swedens Order of the Polar Star
  • Centre for Transatlantic Relations,Washington DC, Distinguished Fellow

Personal Life

Bruton and his wife Finola have four adult children.

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Available for:

After Dinner Engagement
Panelist
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Watch John in action

Playlist
1/2 videos
1
Brexit and the island of Ireland: The all-Ireland economy and the border question
Brexit and the island of Ireland: The all-Ireland economy and the border question
01:05
2
John Bruton address on 1918 General Election, 15 Dec 2018
John Bruton address on 1918 General Election, 15 Dec 2018
35:53

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