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Michael Noonan

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This article is about Michael Noonan the Fine Gael politician. For the Fianna Fáil politician of the same name see: Michael J. Noonan (Fianna Fáil).

Michael Noonan (born 1943) is an Irish Fine Gael politician. He is currently a Teachta Dála (TD) for Limerick East and was the leader of the Fine Gael Party from 2001 to 2002.

Michael Noonan was born in Limerick. He was educated locally and at University College Dublin where he qualified as a teacher. He first became involved in politics in 1974 he was elected to Limerick County Council. He served on that authority until 1981. In that year he was elected as a Fine Gael TD for Limerick East. He has been re-elected at every election since. Although Fine Gael was out of power Noonan became spokesperson on Education.

After just 18 months in the Dáil Noonan was appointed Minister for Justice by Garret FitzGerald As Minister he revealed the illegal phone-tapping of journalsists phones, carried out by the Fianna Fáil administration that preceded it in power. In 1986 he became Minister for Industry, Commerce and Trade. He took responsibility of the Energy portfolio when the Labour Party withdrew from the government. Fine Gael lost power in 1987 and were confined to the opposition benches for another seven years. In opposition he became Party spokesperson on Fiannce, and later on Transport, Energy & Communications. Between 1991 and 1994 Noonan served on Limerick County Council again.

In 1994 the 'Rainbow Coalition' was formed and Noonan became Minister for Health. The department was embroiled in a scandal at the time regarding blood products contaminated with hepatitis C virus. He refused to resign and remained as Minister until the election in 1997. Fine Gael lost that election and Noonan became opposition spokesman for Finance. In 2001 Noonan and his colleague, Jim Mitchell, tabled a motion of no confidence in the leader, John Bruton. The motion was successful in ousting Bruton as leader, with Noonan becoming leader of Fine Gael and Jim Mitchell became deputy-leader. Noonan effectively became Leader of the Opposition, a largely ceremonial title.

Noonan was an effective opposition speaker, however he wasn't so successful in his role as party leader. In the 2002 general election Fine Gael had a disastrous result. The party dropped from 54 TDs to 31 TDs. Noonan resigned as Fine Gael leader on the night of the election. He was replaced by Enda Kenny, the loser to Noonan in his original leadership battle to replace Bruton in 2001. Noonan is tstill a TD in Dáil Éireann and has served on Kenny's Front bench.


Preceded by:
Seán Doherty
Minister for Justice
1982–1986
Succeeded by:
Alan Dukes
Preceded by:
John Bruton
Minister for Industry & Commerce
1986–1987
Succeeded by:
Albert Reynolds
Preceded by:
Michael Woods
Minister for Health
1994–1997
Succeeded by:
Brian Cowen
Preceded by:
John Bruton
Leader of the Fine Gael Party
2001-2002
Succeeded by:
Enda Kenny

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