John Bruton (May 1947) was leader of the Fine Gael party and leader of the Opposition until 31 January 2001. He resigned the position after the Fine Gael parliamentary party passed a motion of no confidence in him. He was dubbed "the luckiest man in politics", when he became Taoiseach in December 1994 without a general election, following a less than effective spell in opposition. Labour had pulled out of their coalition with Fianna Fáil, and Bruton was able to form an alliance between Fine Gael, Labour and Democratic Left to create what became known as the Rainbow Coalition.
He belied popular expectation as Taoiseach, leading the three-party coalition government through a relatively harmonious period of power. His government succeeded in passing a divorce referendum, and the economy began to lift off during their time in power. However, his handling of the Northern process was regarded by some as less than expert, and may have alienated the Republican constituency.
In November 2000, he survived the second 'heave' against his leadership of the party when Austin Deasy put down a vote of 'no-confidence' in him. He withstood an earlier 'heave' in February 1994. After the most recent challenge Mr Bruton remarked that his leadership of Fine Gael had been endorsed by party colleagues on five separate occasions.
He was first elected in 1969, becoming the youngest TD in the Dáil. He joined the front bench in 1972 and got his first promotion to a junior ministry in 1973. As Minister for Finance, his budget of 1982 brought down the FG-Labour coalition in a row over the proposal to tax children's shoes. During that administration, he had a poor working relationship with the Labour leader, Dick Spring.
He replaced Alan Dukes as party leader in 1990 and moved the party away from the social democratic programme pursued by Dukes and his predecessor Dr Garret FitzGerald. The party has retreated to its traditional Christian Democrat roots.
Taoiseach from December 1994-June 1997,
Minister for Finance, February 1986-March 1987.
Minister for Public Service, January-March 1987.
Minister for Industry, Trade, Commerce & Tourism, December 1983-February 1986.
Minister for Industry and Energy, 1982-1983.
Minister for Finance, June 1981-March 1982.
Leader of the House 1982-1986.
Parliamentary Secretary to Minister for Education, 1973-1977.
Parliamentary Secretary to Minister for Industry & Commerce, 1975-1977.
Year Elected: 1969
1st Preference at last election: 13037
Member of Dáil Éireann since 1969.
Leader of Fine Gael from 1990 to 2001.
Deputy Leader of Fine Gael, 1987-1990.
Occupational Income: Leasing of 350 acres of farmland in Co. Meath. Income from media organisations for appearances, articles & book reviews.
Shares: Norwich Union.
Remunerated Position: Salary payment from Fine Gael HQ.; Honorariums from public speaking engagements.
Occupation: Public representative.
St Dominics's College, Cabra.
Clongowes Wood College.
University College Dublin.
King's Inns, Dublin.