Fine Gael

Fine Gael (/ˌfnə ˈɡl, ˌfɪn-/,[12][13] Irish: [ˌfʲɪnʲə ˈɡeːl̪ˠ]; English: "Family (or Tribe) of the Irish"), officially Fine Gael (United Ireland),[14] is a liberal-conservative[15][16][17] and Christian-democratic[18][19][20] political party in the Republic of Ireland. Fine Gael is currently the third-largest party in the Republic of Ireland in terms of members of Dáil Éireann[21][22] and largest in terms of Irish members of the European Parliament.[23] The party has a membership of 30,000 in 2020.[24] Leo Varadkar succeeded Enda Kenny as party leader on 2 June 2017 and as Taoiseach on 14 June; Kenny had been leader since 2002, and Taoiseach since 2011.[25][26][27][28]

Fine Gael
LeaderLeo Varadkar TD
Deputy LeaderSimon Coveney TD
ChairmanRichard Bruton TD
Seanad LeaderSenator Regina Doherty
PresidentLeo Varadkar
FoundersW. T. Cosgrave,
Eoin O'Duffy,
Frank MacDermot
Founded8 September 1933 (1933-09-08)
Merger of
Headquarters51 Upper Mount Street,
Dublin 2, D02 W924, Ireland
Youth wingYoung Fine Gael
LGBT+ wingFine Gael LGBT
Membership (2020)Increase30,000[1]
Political positionCentre-right[8][9][10][11]
European affiliationEuropean People's Party
International affiliationCentrist Democrat International
European Parliament groupEuropean People's Party group
Colours  Blue
SloganA future to Look Forward to
Dáil Éireann
35 / 160
Seanad Éireann
16 / 60
European Parliament[nb 1]
5 / 13
Local government
254 / 949

Fine Gael was founded on 8 September 1933[29] following the merger of its parent party Cumann na nGaedheal, the National Centre Party and the Army Comrades Association. Its origins lie in the struggle for Irish independence and the pro-Treaty side in the Irish Civil War and Michael Collins, in particular, is linked to the party.[30] In its early years, the party was commonly known as Fine Gael–The United Ireland Party, abbreviated UIP.[31][32][33]

Fine Gael is generally considered to be more of a proponent of market liberalism than its traditional rival, Fianna Fáil.[34] Fine Gael describes itself as a "party of the progressive centre" which it defines as acting "in a way that is right for Ireland, regardless of dogma or ideology". It lists its core values as "equality of opportunity, free enterprise and reward, security, integrity and hope."[35][36] In international politics, the party is highly supportive of the European Union, along with generally supporting strengthened relations with the United Kingdom and opposition to physical force Irish republicanism. The party's autonomous youth wing, Young Fine Gael (YFG), was formed in 1977.

Having governed in coalition with the Labour Party between 2011 and 2016, and in a minority government along with Independent TDs from 2016 to 2020, Fine Gael currently forms part of an historic coalition government with its traditional rival, Fianna Fáil, and the Green Party, with Leo Varadkar serving as Tánaiste.


The following is a timeline of participation in governments and positions on proposed constitutional referenda:[37][38][39][40][41]

  • 1933: Fine Gael is formed through the merger of Cumann na nGaedheal with two smaller groups, the National Centre Party and the Army Comrades Association, commonly known as the Blueshirts.
    A poster from the party in 1937 advocating that people should vote against the proposed new constitution
  • 1937: It campaigns against the adoption of a new constitution proposed by Fianna Fáil advocating a no vote in the plebiscite, where it was approved by 56.5% of the vote.[42]
  • 1948–1951: It forms part of Ireland's first coalition government also including the Labour Party, Clann na Poblachta, Clann na Talmhan and the National Labour Party.
  • 1954–1957: It takes part in a three-party coalition government with the Labour Party and Clann na Talmhan.
  • 1959: It opposes a proposal to amend the constitution to scrap proportional representation (PR-STV) with single member constituencies, advocating a no vote in the referendum, the amendment was rejected by voters.
  • 1968: It opposes two proposals to amend the constitution advocating no votes for both proposals, a proposal to permit greater malapportionment in favour of rural areas which was rejected by voters and another proposal to amend the constitution to scrap proportional representation (PR-STV) with single member constituencies, which was again rejected by voters, this time by a significantly larger margin than 1959.
  • 1972: It supports the campaign for a yes vote in the referendum to join the European Communities, voters approved of this proposal in the referendum.
  • 1973: It supports the campaign for a yes vote for two constitutional amendments, a proposal to reduce the minimum voting age from 21 to 18 and a proposal to remove the "special position" of the Roman Catholic Church from the constitution in order to make Ireland a secular state. Both amendments were approved by voters in referenda.
  • 1973–1977: It takes part in a two-party coalition government with the Labour Party.
  • 1979: It supports the campaign for a yes vote for two constitutional amendments, one proposal to reverse a 1977 finding that certain orders made by the adoption board were unconstitutional, and a proposal to extend the voting franchise for Seanad Éireann (Senate). Both amendments were approved by voters in referenda.
  • 1981–1982 (March): It takes part in a two-party minority coalition government with the Labour Party.
  • 1982 (December)–1987: It takes part in a two-party coalition government with the Labour Party.
  • 1983: It is divided on the referendum on the Eighth amendment, a bill originally introduced by the Fianna Fáil minority government of 1982 to introduce a constitutional de facto ban on abortion. Though the Fine Gael party leader at the time, Garret FitzGerald, personally advocated a no vote, the amendment was approved by voters in the referendum.
  • 1984: It proposes and supports the campaign for a yes vote for a constitutional amendment to extend the voting franchise to allow votes for non-citizens who are residents. This amendment was approved by voters in the referendum.
Logo of the party before April 2009.
  • 1986: It proposes and supports the campaign for a yes vote for a constitutional amendment to make divorce constitutional. This amendment was rejected by voters in the referendum.
  • 1987: It supports the campaign for a yes vote for a constitutional amendment permitting the state to ratify the Single European Act. This amendment was approved by voters in the referendum.
  • 1992: It supports the campaign for a yes vote for a constitutional amendment permitting the state to ratify the Maastricht Treaty. This amendment was approved by voters in the referendum.
  • 1994–1997: It takes part in a three-party coalition government with the Labour Party and Democratic Left.
  • 1995–1997: It proposes and supports the campaign for a yes vote for three constitutional amendments between 1995 and 1997. An amendment in 1995 to make divorce constitutional, an amendment in 1996 to reverse a 1965 Supreme Court ruling by allowing a court to refuse someone bail if it suspected a person would commit a serious criminal offence while at liberty, and an amendment in 1997 to reverse a 1992 Supreme Court ruling that meetings of the cabinet were absolutely confidential. All three amendments were approved by voters in their respective referenda.
  • 1998–1999: It supported the campaign for a yes vote for three constitutional amendments, two amendments in 1998 to permit the state to ratify the Amsterdam Treaty and another to permit the state to ratify the Good Friday Agreement, and an amendment in 1999 providing constitutional recognition to local government and that elections to local councils must held at least every five years. All three amendments were approved by voters in their respective referenda.
  • 2001–2004: It supported the campaign for a yes vote for seven constitutional amendments and opposed one proposed constitutional amendment between 2001 and 2004. It supported all three amendments in 2001, an amendment to extend the pre-existing legislative ban of death penalty to a constitutional ban, an amendment to permit the state to ratify the Statute of the International Criminal Court and amendment to permit the state to ratify the Nice Treaty. All of the amendments proposed in 2001 were approved by voters except the one regarding the Nice Treaty, voters reversed this decision approving the Nice Treaty in a second referendum in 2002, also supported by Fine Gael. The other amendment proposed in 2002 was an attempt to strengthen the constitutional ban on abortion by making abortion in the X-Case unconstitutional, this was opposed by Fine Gael who advocated a no vote, and rejected by voters in the referendum.
  • 2002: Leadership election; Enda Kenny elected as the party leader.
  • 2004–2009: It supports a constitutional amendment in 2004 to abolish unrestricted jus soli right to Irish nationality, this amendment was approved by voters in the referendum. It supported an amendment in 2008 to permit the state to ratify the Lisbon Treaty, this was rejected in the referendum, voters reversed this decision approving the Lisbon Treaty in a second referendum in 2009, also supported by Fine Gael.
  • 2011: It becomes the largest party in Dáil Éireann for the first time (or since 1932 including Cumann na nGaedheal) as a result of the 2011 general election.
  • 2011–2015: It proposes and supports the campaign for a yes vote for eight constitutional amendments between 2011 and 2015. Two amendments in 2011, one to relax the prohibition on the reduction of the salaries of Irish judges which was approved by voters in the referendum and one to reverse a 2002 Supreme Court ruling which prevented Oireachtas inquiries from making findings critical of individuals which was not approved by voters in its respective referendum. Two amendments in 2012, one to permit the state to ratify the European Fiscal Compact and one relating to children's rights and the right and duty of the state to take child protection measures, both of these 2012 proposals were approved by voters in their respective referenda. Two amendments in 2013, one which proposed to abolish Seanad Éireann (the upper house of Ireland's parliament) which was rejected by voters in the referendum and one which mandates of a new Court of Appeal above the High Court and below the Supreme Court, this proposal was accepted by voters in the referendum. Two amendments in 2015, one to reduce the age a person can be a presidential candidate from 35 to 21 which was rejected by voters, and another amendment to prohibit restrictions to marriage based on sex and introduce marriage equality, which was approved by voters in the respective referendum.
  • 2011–2016: It takes part in a two-party majority coalition government with the Labour Party, effectively a grand coalition as for the period of the 31st Dáil they were the two largest parties. (see Government of the 31st Dáil)
  • 2016–2020: It takes parts in a minority coalition government with some non-party TDs, made possible by a confidence and supply agreement with Fianna Fáíl, which agreed to abstain in confidence votes. (see Government of the 32nd Dáil)
  • 2017: Leadership election, Leo Varadkar elected as the party leader.
  • 2018: Abortion referendum, Fine Gael joins Together for Yes, the campaign to repeal the Eighth Amendment. The party's internal campaign is led by Josepha Madigan. The Yes campaign wins in a landslide victory.
  • 2020: Fine Gael enters an historic coalition government with its traditional rival, Fianna Fáil, and the Green Party, with Leo Varadkar serving as Tánaiste. In October, following a disciplinary investigation, one of its councillors, Patsy O'Brien, was expelled from the party, having been suspended since March.[43]
    Leo Varadkar, Leader of Fine Gael since 2017

Ideology and policiesEdit

As a political party of the centre-right,[8][9][10][11] Fine Gael has been described as liberal-conservative,[2][3][44] Christian-democratic,[6][7] liberal,[8] conservative,[45][46] and pro-European,[47] with an ideological base combining elements of cultural conservatism and economic liberalism.[48]

Social policiesEdit

Fine Gael adopted the 'Just Society' policy statement in the 1960s, based on principles of social justice and equality. It was created by the emerging social democratic wing of the party, led by Declan Costello. The ideas expressed in the policy statement had a significant influence on the party in the years to come.[49]

While Fine Gael was traditionally socially conservative for most of the twentieth century due to the conservative Christian ethos of Irish society during this time, its members are variously influenced by social liberalism, social democracy and Christian democracy on issues of social policy. Under Garret FitzGerald, the party's more socially liberal, or pluralist, wing gained prominence. Proposals to allow divorce were put by referendum by two Fine Gael–led governments, in 1986 under FitzGerald,[50] and in 1995 under John Bruton, passing very narrowly on this second attempt.[51]

LGBT+ issuesEdit

Fine Gael supported civil unions for same-sex couples from 2003, voting for the Civil Partnership and Certain Rights and Obligations of Cohabitants Bill 2010, and the party approved a motion at its 2012 Ard Fheis to prioritise the consideration of same-sex marriage in the upcoming constitutional convention. In 2013 party leader and Taoiseach Enda Kenny declared his support for same-sex marriage. The Fine Gael-led government held a referendum on the subject on 22 May 2015. The referendum passed, with the electorate voting to extend full marriage rights to same-sex couples, with 62.1% in favour and 37.9% opposed. The party has run advertisements in GCN (Gay Community News) advertising its commitments to same-sex couples.[citation needed]

In 2015, months before the marriage equality referendum, Leo Varadkar became the first Irish government minister to come out as gay.[52] In May 2019, former Rose of Tralee Maria Walsh, was elected as a Fine Gael MEP for the Midlands-Northwest constituency in the 2019 European Parliament election, running alongside Mairéad McGuinness MEP. Walsh was Fine Gael's first openly lesbian candidate.[53][54]

Fine Gael has an LGBT+ section, Fine Gael LGBT, and in 2017, Leo Varadkar became the first Taoiseach to march in Dublin's Pride Parade.[55]


In 1983, having initially supported the proposal, Fine Gael came out in opposition to the Eighth Amendment to the Irish Constitution that was being submitted in a referendum in 1983, which sought to introduce a constitutional prohibition on abortion. Under then leader and Taoiseach Garret FitzGerald it campaigned for a 'No' vote, arguing, on the advice of the Attorney General Peter Sutherland, that the wording, which had been drafted under the previous government, when analysed was ambiguous and open to many interpretations.[56] This referendum resulted in the Eighth Amendment to the Irish constitution, giving the unborn child a qualified[57] equal right to life to that of the mother.[58] Its stance conflicted with that of the Pro-Life Amendment Campaign (PLAC) and Catholic bishops, and Fianna Fáil, the largest party in the State at the time, but then in opposition.

The party also campaigned against the Twenty-fifth Amendment to the Constitution in 2002, which proposed to remove suicide as a grounds for granting a termination of a pregnancy. Suicide had been ruled as a ground, under the 8th amendment, in the X Case judgement of the Irish Supreme Court. The amendment was rejected by Irish voters.[59]

In 2013 it proposed, and supported, the enactment of the Protection of Life During Pregnancy Act 2013, which implemented in statute law the X case ruling of the Irish Supreme Court, granting access to a termination of a pregnancy where there is a real and substantial risk to the life, not the health, of the mother, including a threat of suicide. Five TDs & two Senators, including Minister of State Lucinda Creighton, lost the Fine Gael party whip for voting against the legislation. Creighton later left Fine Gael to found Renua[60][61] The Act was criticised by various pro-life groups[62] and Catholic bishops, but supported by a majority of the electorate in opinion polls, with many indicating they wished to see a more liberal law on abortion.[63]

Enda Kenny's Fine Gael–led minority government took office after the 2016 election with a programme which promised a randomly selected Citizens' Assembly to report on possible changes to the Eighth Amendment, which would be considered by an Oireachtas committee, to whose report the government would respond officially in debates in both houses of the Oireachtas. Fine Gael Oireachtas members were promised a free vote on the issue. Leo Varadkar succeeded Enda Kenny as Taoiseach on 14 June 2017 and promised to hold a referendum on abortion in 2018.[64] Several Fine Gael TDs, notably Health Minister Simon Harris and Kate O'Connell, were prominent supporters of the pro-choice side before and during the referendum. While the party was divided, the majority of Fine Gael TDs and Senators, as well as most members, were in favour of repealing the Eighth Amendment. A referendum to repeal the Eighth Amendment was held on 25 May 2018 and was passed by 66.4% of voters.

Drug policiesEdit

The party have traditionally held a strong stance against the decriminalisation of drugs. In 2007, Fine Gael's leader at the time Enda Kenny called for drug and alcohol testing to be performed in schools, saying cocaine usage was "rampant" in schools in some areas.[65]

At the party's Ard Fheis in 2014, a proposed motion to support the legalisation of cannabis was voted down by the membership.[66]

In 2016, the Fine Gael health minister James Reilly said that they would not be changing their policy on the legalisation of cannabis, due to "serious concerns about the health impacts" of cannabis.[67]

In 2020, Fine Gael strongly criticized the Labour Party for their proposed decriminalisation policies.[68]

Law and order partyEdit

Although Ireland's political spectrum was traditionally divided along Civil War lines, rather than the traditional European left–right spectrum, Fine Gael is described generally as a centre-right party, with a focus on law and order, enterprise and reward, and "fiscal rectitude".[69] As the descendant of the pro-Treaty factions in the Irish Civil War, Fine Gael claims inspiration from Michael Collins and claims his legacy. He remains a symbol for the party, and the anniversary of his death is commemorated each year in August.[70]

Economic policiesEdit

Fine Gael has, since its inception, portrayed itself as a party of fiscal rectitude and minimal government interference in economics, advocating pro-enterprise policies. In that they followed the line of the previous pro-Treaty government that believed in minimal state intervention, low taxes and social expenditures.[71] Newly elected politicians for the party in the Dáil have strongly advocated liberal economic policies. Lucinda Creighton (who has since left the party) and Leo Varadkar in particular have been seen as strong advocates of a neoliberal approach to Ireland's economic woes and unemployment problems.[72] Varadkar in particular has been a strong proponent of small, indigenous business, advocating that smaller firms should benefit from the government's recapitalisation program.[73] Its former finance spokesman Richard Bruton's proposals have been seen as approaching problems from a pro-enterprise point of view. Its fairer budget website in 2011 suggested that its solutions are "tough but fair".[74] Other solutions conform generally to conservative governments' policies throughout Europe, focusing on cutting numbers in the public sector, while maintaining investment in infrastructure.

Fine Gael's proposals have sometimes been criticised mostly by smaller political groupings in Ireland, and by some of the trade unions, who have raised the idea that the party's solutions are more conscious of business interests than the interests of the worker. The SIPTU trade union has stated its opposition to the Taoiseach Enda Kenny's assertion, in response to Ireland's economic crisis, that the national wage agreement should be suspended. Kenny's comments had support however and the party attributes its significant rise in polls in 2008 to this.[75]

Fine Gael's Simon Coveney launched what the party termed a radical re-organisation of the Irish semi-state company sector. Styled the New Economy and Recovery Authority (or NewERA), Coveney said that it is an economic stimulus plan that will "reshape the Irish economy for the challenges of the 21st century".[76] Requiring an €18.2 billion investment in Energy, Communications and Water infrastructure over a four-year period, it was promoted as a way to enhance energy security and digital reputation of Ireland. A very broad ranging document, it proposed the combined management of a portfolio of semi-state assets, and the sale of all other, non-essential services. The release of equity through the sale of the various state resources, including electricity generation services belonging to the ESB, Bord na Móna and Bord Gáis, in combination with use of money in the National Pensions Reserve Fund, was Fine Gael's proposed funding source for its national stimulus package.[77]

The plan was seen at being the basis of a Fine Gael program for government. Seen as being the longer term contribution to Fine Gael's economic plan, it has been publicised in combination with a more short term policy proposal from Leo Varadkar. This document, termed "Hope for a Lost Generation", promises to bring 30,000 young Irish people off the Live Register in a year by combining a National Internship Program, a Second Chance Education Scheme, an Apprenticeship Guarantee and Community Work Program, as well as instituting a German style, Workshare program.[78]

Constitutional reform policiesEdit

Fine Gael is seen as being a constitutional party, with members and public representatives always showing considerable deference to the institutional organs of the Irish state. The party leadership has been eager to be seen to engage in an ongoing constitutional debate in Ireland on the topic of political reform.[citation needed] The debate which has been monitored by the Irish Times in its Renewing the Republic opinion pieces, has largely centred on the make up of the Oireachtas, the Irish parliament. Fine Gael's Phil Hogan TD, now a European Commissioner, has published the party's proposals for political and constitutional reform. In a policy document entitled New Politics, Hogan suggested creating a country with "a smaller, more dynamic and more responsive political system," reducing the size of the Dáil by 20, changing the way the Dáil works, and in a controversial move, abolishing the Irish senate, Seanad Éireann.[79]

Aiming to carry out the parties proposals through a series of constitutional referendums, the proposals were echoed by then Labour leader Eamon Gilmore, when he proposed his own constitutional "crusade" at his 2010 party conference, shortly after.[80]

Health policiesEdit

The Irish health system, being administered centrally by the Health Service Executive, is seen to be poor by comparison to other countries in Europe, ranking outside expected levels at 25th according to the Euro Health Consumer Index 2006.[81]

Fine Gael has long wanted Ireland to break with the system of private health insurance, public medical cards and what it calls the two tiers of the health system and has launched a campaign to see the system reformed. Speaking in favour of the campaign, Fine Gael then health spokesman James Reilly stated "Over the last 10 years the health service has become a shambles. We regularly have over 350 people on trolleys in A&E, waiting lists that go on for months, outpatient waiting lists that go on for years and cancelled operations across the country..."[82]

Fine Gael launched its FairCare campaign and website in April 2009, which stated that the health service would be reformed away from a costly ineffective endeavour, into a publicly regulated system where compulsory universal health insurance would replace the existing provisions.[83]

This strategy was criticised by Fianna Fáil's then-Minister for Children, Barry Andrews. The spokesperson for family law and children, Alan Shatter TD, robustly defended its proposals as the only means of reducing public expenditure, and providing a service in Ireland more akin to the Canadian, German, Dutch and Austrian health systems.

Fine Gael's current healthcare policy revolves around the implementation of Sláintecare, a cross-party plan for the reform of the Irish health system. Sláintecare is focused on introducing "a universal single-tiered health service, which guarantees access based on need, not income… through Universal Health Insurance".[84]


Fine Gael is among the most pro-European integration parties in Ireland, having supported the European Constitution,[85] the Lisbon Treaty, and advocating participation in European common defence.[86] Under Enda Kenny, the party questioned Irish neutrality, with Kenny claiming that "the truth is, Ireland is not neutral. We are merely unaligned."[85] The party's youth wing, Young Fine Gael, passed a motion in 2016 calling on the government to apply for membership of NATO.

Since Brexit, Fine Gael has taken a strong pro-European stance, stating that Ireland's place is "at the heart of Europe".[This quote needs a citation] In government, the party has launched the "Global Ireland" plan to develop alliances with other small countries across Europe and the world.[87]

European affiliationsEdit

Fine Gael is a founding member of the European People's Party (EPP), the largest European political party comprising liberal conservative and Christian democratic national-level parties from across Europe. Fine Gael's MEPs sit with the EPP Group in the European Parliament, and Fine Gael parliamentarians also sit with the EPP Groups in the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe and Committee of the Regions. Young Fine Gael is a member of the Youth of the European People's Party (YEPP).

It is inferred from the party's relationship with its European counterparts via membership of the European People's Party that Fine Gael belongs on the centre-right.[88][89][90] The party conforms generally with European political parties that identify themselves as being Christian democratic.[91]

Electoral performanceEdit

At the 2011 general election, Fine Gael gained 25 seats bringing them to a total of 76. The party ran candidates in all 43 constituencies, and had candidates elected in every constituency except Dublin North-West.

Fine Gael won 19 seats in Seanad Éireann following the 2011 election, a gain of four from the previous election in 2007.

At the 2009 Local elections held on 5 June 2009, Fine Gael won 556 seats, surpassing Fianna Fáil which won 407 seats, and making Fine Gael the largest party of local government nationally.[92] They gained 88 seats from their 2004 result.

At 2009 European Parliament election held on the same day as the Local elections, which saw a reduction in the number seats from 13 to 12 for Ireland, the party won four seats, retaining the largest number of seats of an Irish party in the European Parliament. This was a loss of one seat from its 2004 result.[93]

While Fine Gael was responsible for the initial nomination of the uncontested, first President of Ireland, Douglas Hyde, a Fine Gael candidate has never won an election to the office of president. The most recent Fine Gael presidential candidate, Gay Mitchell, finished fourth in the 2011 presidential election, with 6.4% of the vote.[94] In 2004, Fine Gael supported the re-election of President Mary McAleese. Similarly, it supported the re-election of Michael D. Higgins in the 2018 presidential election.

In the 2016 general election the outgoing government consisting of Fine Gael and its partner the Labour Party was defeated. The previous government had the largest majority in the history of the state with a combined 113 seats out of the 166-seat Dáil Éireann. The aftermath of the general election resulted in months of negotiations for an agreement of government. A deal was reached with the main opposition and traditional rival Fianna Fáil to facilitate a minority Fine Gael-led government. Fine Gael governed Ireland alone with eight Independent members of the Dáil until 2020, when the party emerged as the third party following the general election. After governing for several months in a caretaker capacity, Fine Gael agreed to serve in a historic coalition government along with its traditional rival, Fianna Fáil, and the Green Party, with Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin serving as Taoiseach and Leo Varadkar serving as Tánaiste. Under the agreed Programme for Government, the role of Taoiseach will rotate to Leo Varadkar in 2022.

Planning and payment tribunalsEdit

The Moriarty Tribunal has sat since 1997 and has investigated the granting of a mobile phone license to Esat Telecom by Michael Lowry when he was Fine Gael Minister for Transport, Energy and Communications in the Rainbow Coalition of the mid-1990s. Lowry resigned from the Cabinet after it was revealed at the Moriarty Tribunal that businessman Ben Dunne had paid for an IR£395,000 extension to Lowry's County Tipperary home. Lowry, now an independent TD, supported the Fianna FáilGreen Party government in Dáil Éireann until March 2011.

It was also revealed in December 1996 that Fine Gael had received some £180,000 from Ben Dunne in the period 1987 to 1993. This was composed of £100,000 in 1993, £50,000 in 1992 and £30,000 in 1989. In addition, Michael Noonan received £3,000 in 1992 towards his election campaign, Ivan Yates received £5,000, Michael Lowry received £5,000 and Sean Barrett received £1,000 in the earlier 1987 election. John Bruton said he had received £1,000 from Dunne in 1982 towards his election campaign, and Dunne had also given £15,000 to the Labour Party during the 1990 Presidential election campaign.[95]

Following revelations at the Moriarty Tribunal on 16 February 1999, in relation to Charles Haughey and his relationship with AIB, former Taoiseach Garret Fitzgerald confirmed that AIB and Ansbacher wrote off debts of almost £200,000 that he owed in 1993, when he was in financial difficulties because of the collapse of the aircraft leasing company, GPA, in which he was a shareholder. The write-off occurred after Dr Fitzgerald left politics and Dr. Fitzgerald also said he believed his then Fine Gael colleague, Peter Sutherland, who was chairman of AIB at the time, was unaware of the situation.[96]


The current leader of the Fine Gael party is Leo Varadkar, who, as well as being Ireland's youngest ever Taoiseach and is the country's first openly gay leader. The position of deputy leader has been held since 2017 by Simon Coveney TD, the Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade.

Party leaderEdit

The following are the terms of office as party leader and as Taoiseach (bolded) if applicable:

Leader Portrait Period Constituency Periods in office (if Taoiseach)
Eoin O'Duffy   1933–1934 Monaghan[97]
W. T. Cosgrave   1934–1944 Carlow–Kilkenny
Richard Mulcahy   1944–1959[98][99] Tipperary John A. Costello[100]19481951; 19541957
(Government of the 13th Dáil and 15th Dáil)
James Dillon   1959–1965 Monaghan
Liam Cosgrave   1965–1977 Dún Laoghaire 19731977
(Government of the 20th Dáil)
Garret FitzGerald   1977–1987 Dublin South-East 1981Feb 1982; Nov 19821987
(Government of the 22nd Dáil and 24th Dáil)
Alan Dukes   1987–1990 Kildare South
John Bruton   1990–2001 Meath 1994–1997
(Government of the 27th Dáil)
Michael Noonan   2001–2002 Limerick East
Enda Kenny   2002–2017 Mayo 2011–2017
(Government of the 31st Dáil and 32nd Dáil)
Leo Varadkar   2017–present Dublin West 2017–2020
(Government of the 32nd Dáil)

Deputy leaderEdit

Name Period Constituency
Tom O'Higgins 1972–1977 Dublin County South
Peter Barry 1977–1987 Cork South-Central
John Bruton 1987–1990 Meath
Peter Barry 1991–1993 Cork South-Central
Nora Owen 1993–2001 Dublin North
Jim Mitchell 2001–2002 Dublin Central
Richard Bruton 2002–2010 Dublin North-Central
James Reilly 2010–2017 Dublin North
Simon Coveney 2017–present Cork South-Central

Seanad leaderEdit

Name Period Panel
Michael J. O'Higgins 1973–1977 Nominated member of Seanad Éireann
Patrick Cooney 1977–1981 Cultural and Educational Panel
Gemma Hussey 1981–1982 National University of Ireland
James Dooge 1982–1987 National University of Ireland
Maurice Manning 1987–2002 Cultural and Educational Panel
Brian Hayes 2002–2007 Cultural and Educational Panel
Michael Finucane 2007 (acting) Labour Panel
Frances Fitzgerald 2007–2011 Labour Panel
Maurice Cummins 2011–2016 Labour Panel
Jerry Buttimer 2016–2020 Labour Panel
Regina Doherty 2020–present Nominated member of Seanad Éireann

General election resultsEdit

Election Seats won ± Position First Pref votes % Government Leader
48 / 138
 11[101]  2nd 461,171 34.8% Official Opposition W. T. Cosgrave
45 / 138
 3  2nd 428,633 33.3% Official Opposition W. T. Cosgrave
32 / 138
 12  2nd 307,490 23.1% Official Opposition W. T. Cosgrave
30 / 138
 2  2nd 249,329 20.5% Official Opposition Richard Mulcahy
31 / 147
 1  2nd 262,393 19.8% Minority Coalition Government


Richard Mulcahy
40 / 147
 9  2nd 349,922 27.2% Official Opposition Richard Mulcahy
50 / 147
 10  2nd 427,031 32.0% Coalition Government


Richard Mulcahy
40 / 147
 10  2nd 326,699 26.6% Official Opposition Richard Mulcahy
47 / 144
 7  2nd 374,099 32.0% Official Opposition James Dillon
47 / 144
   2nd 427,081 34.1% Official Opposition James Dillon
50 / 144
 3  2nd 449,749 34.1% Official Opposition Liam Cosgrave
54 / 144
 4  2nd 473,781 35.1% Coalition Government


Liam Cosgrave
43 / 148
 11  2nd 488,767 30.5% Official Opposition Liam Cosgrave
65 / 166
 22  2nd 626,376 36.5% Minority Coalition Government


Garret FitzGerald
1982 (Feb)
63 / 166
 2  2nd 621,088 37.3% Official Opposition Garret FitzGerald
1982 (Nov)
70 / 166
 7  2nd 662,284 39.2% Coalition Government


Garret FitzGerald
51 / 166
 19  2nd 481,127 27.1% Official Opposition Garret FitzGerald
55 / 166
 4  2nd 485,307 29.3% Official Opposition Alan Dukes
45 / 166
 10  2nd 422,106 24.5% Official Opposition

(until December 1994)

John Bruton
Minority Coalition Government

(FG-LP-DL) (from December 1994)

54 / 166
 9  2nd 499,936 27.9% Official Opposition John Bruton
31 / 166
 23  2nd 417,619 22.5% Official Opposition Michael Noonan
51 / 166
 20  2nd 564,428 27.3% Official Opposition Enda Kenny
76 / 166
 25  1st 801,628 36.1% Coalition Government


Enda Kenny
50 / 158
 26  1st 544,410 25.5% Minority government

(Confidence & Supply from FF)

Enda Kenny
35 / 160
 15  3rd 455,568 20.9% Coalition Government


Leo Varadkar

Front benchEdit

Young Fine GaelEdit

Young Fine Gael (YFG) is the autonomous youth movement of Fine Gael. It was founded in 1976 by the then leader Garret FitzGerald. It caters for young people under 35 with an interest in Fine Gael and politics, in cities, towns and third level colleges throughout Ireland. YFG is led by its national executive consisting of ten members elected on a regional basis, and on a national panel.

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ Fine Gael had 5 MEPS elected at the 2019 European Parliament election. Deirdre Clune, the fifth candidate elected for South, did not take her seat until the UK left the EU and its MEPs vacated their seats.


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  • Nealon's Guide to the 29th Dáil and Seanad (Gill and Macmillan, 2002) (ISBN 0-7171-3288-9)
  • Stephen Collins, "The Cosgrave Legacy" (Blackwater, 1996) (ISBN 0-86121-658-X)
  • Garret FitzGerald, "Garret FitzGerald: An Autobiography" (Gill and Macmillan, 1991) (ISBN 0-7171-1600-X)
  • Jack Jones, In Your Opinion: Political and Social Trends in Ireland through the Eyes of the Electorate (Townhouse, 2001) (ISBN 1-86059-149-3)
  • Maurice Manning, James Dillon: A Biography (Wolfhound, 1999/2000) (ISBN 0-86327-823-X)
  • Stephen O'Byrnes, Hiding Behind a Face: Fine Gael under FitzGerald (Gill and Macmillan: 1986) (ISBN 0-7171-1448-1)
  • Raymond Smith, Garret: The Enigma (Aherlow, 1985) (no ISBN)

External linksEdit