Fine Gael

Fine Gael

Infobox Irish_Political_Party
party_name = Fine Gael
party_articletitle = Fine Gael
leader = Enda Kenny
foundation = 3 September 1933
ideology = Christian democracy, Centrism
international = Centrist Democrat International
european = European People's Party
europarl = European People's Party–European Democrats
colours = Blue
headquarters = 51 Upper Mount Street,
Dublin 2
website = []

Fine Gael – The United Ireland Party, shortened to Fine Gael (pronounced|ˌfina gail, meaning "Family of the Irish" or "Tribe of the Irish", [Often anglicised to IPAEng|ˌfɪnə ˈgeɪl; approximate English translation: "Family" or "Tribe of the Irish".] ) is the second largest political party in the Republic of Ireland. It claims a membership of 30,000, [Fine Gael. [ Join Fine Gael] . Retrieved on 31 October 2007.] and is the largest opposition party in the Oireachtas, the Irish parliament.

Fine Gael was founded in 1933 following the merger of its parent party Cumann na nGaedhael, the Centre Party and the Army Comrades Association, popularly known as the "Blueshirts". [Gerard O'Connell [ History of Fine Gael] . Retrieved on 31 October 2007.] Its origins lie in the struggle for Irish independence and the pro-Treaty side in the Irish Civil War, identifying in particular Michael Collins as the founder of the movement. [The Irish Times. [ Legacy of the Easter Rising] . Retrieved on 31 October 2007.]

Modern Fine Gael describes itself as the party of the "progressive centre" [ [ Party Leader ] ] , with core values focussed on fiscal rectitude, free enterprise and reward, individual rights and responsibilities.Fine Gael. The party largely conforms to the idea of Christian democracy. See [ Our Values] . Retrieved on 31 October 2007.] They are strongly pro-EU integration and opposed to violent Irish republicanism. Fine Gael is Ireland's only party in the European People's Party (EPP); its MEPs sit in the EPP-ED group. The party's youth wing, Young Fine Gael, was formed in 1977 and has approximately four thousand members.RTÉ News. [ Election 2007 - Youth parties] . Retrieved on 31 October 2007.]

The current party leader is Enda Kenny. He was elected by a secret ballot of the parliamentary party on 5 June 2002. [RTÉ News (5 June 2002). [ Enda Kenny elected Fine Gael leader] . Retrieved on 31 October 2007.]


spiralled out of control in the late 1960s, new party leader Liam Cosgrave sought to focus the party's view on its role as protector of the state's institutions, and to neutralise feuding between the party leadership and the centre-left branch of the party.

Fine Gael was returned to government in a "National Coalition" with the Labour Party in 1973. The coalition was beset by problems from the start, including the oil crisis and escalating violence in Northern Ireland. [Peter Barberis, John McHugh, Mike Tyldsley. " [ Encyclopedia of British and Irish Political Organizations] ", p.739. Published by Continuum International Publishing Group. ISBN 0826458149.] The resignation of President Cearbhall Ó Dálaigh in 1976 after a confrontation with Minister for Defence Paddy Donegan was also a blow to the credibility of the coalition. In 1977, Fianna Fáil under Jack Lynch won an unprecedented twenty-seat majority in the Dáil, and returned to government. Cosgrave resigned the leadership and was replaced by Garret FitzGerald. FitzGerald became Fine Gael's third Taoiseach, again in a short-lived coalition with Labour between 1981 and February 1982. FitzGerald revived Fine Gael's fortunes to the point where they were five seats behind Fianna Fáil following the November 1982 general election. The party returned to government with Labour. FitzGerald negotiated the Anglo-Irish Agreement with British prime minister Margaret Thatcher in 1985. However, the government struggled to control high unemployment and emigration, and was heavily defeated by Fianna Fáil under Charles Haughey in 1987.


Following the unveiling of the "Mullingar Accord", an election pact agreed after the local and European elections in 2004, Fine Gael and the Labour Party increasingly co-operated in the build-up to the 2007 general election, agreeing a vote-transfer pact and plan to go into government together provided the parties had the required number of seats. [RTÉ News (6 September 2004). [ Opposition leaders unveil 'Mullingar Accord'] . Retrieved on 1 November 2007.] The pact was overwhelming endorsed by Labour members at the party's conference in Tralee in May 2005. [RTÉ News (28 May 2005). [ Rabbitte addresses Labour conference] . Retrieved on 1 November 2007.] Fine Gael director of elections Frank Flannery claimed that the agreement, coupled with the party's strong performance in pre-election opinion polls, could lead to a gain of twenty-eight seats in the election. [RTÉ News (14 September 2006). [ Fine Gael repeats seat gain claim] . Retrieved on 1 November 2007.] The party gained a total of twenty seats in the election on 24 May 2007, giving the "Alliance for Change" a total of seventy-one seats (seventy six including the Green Party as a potential partner), putting the coalition six seats behind Fianna Fáil. On the first day of the new Dáil, on 14 June 2007, Enda Kenny was nominated for Taoiseach by Fine Gael deputy-leader Richard Bruton and then-Labour leader Pat Rabbitte. He was defeated by incumbent Bertie Ahern and a coalition of Fianna Fáil, the Green Party, the Progressive Democrats and a group of Independents by eighty-nine votes to seventy-six. [RTÉ News (14 June 2007). [ Ahern names new Cabinet] . Retrieved on 1 November 2007.]

Ideology and policies

Although Ireland's political spectrum is divided along Civil War lines, rather than the traditional European left-right spectrum, Fine Gael describes itself as a Christian-democratic party, with a focus on law and order, enterprise and reward, and fiscal rectitude. As the descendent of the pro-Treaty factions in the Irish Civil War, Fine Gael has a strong affinity with Michael Collins. He remains a symbol for the party, and the anniversary of his death is commemorated each year in August. [The Hogan Stand (21 September 2005). [ Michael Collins' view of life in Achill Gaeltacht] . Retrieved on 31 October 2007.] Fine Gael has, since its inception, been a party of fiscal rectitude, advocating pro-enterprise policies. The party is a member of the Centrist Democrat International and the European Peoples Party, while it sits with the EPP-ED group in the European Parliament.

Fine Gael is among the most pro-European integration parties in the Republic of Ireland, having supported the European ConstitutionNational Forum on Europe (26 October 2006). [ Enda Kenny calls for Unified EU Approach to Immigration] . Retrieved on 31 October 2007.] and advocating participation in European common defence. [National Forum on Europe (3 April 2003). [ Should we back a pledge to defend others if they come under attack?] . Retrieved on 31 October 2007.] Under Enda Kenny, the party has questioned Irish neutrality, with Kenny claiming that "the truth is, Ireland is not neutral. We are merely unaligned." Under Kenny the party has also strongly opposed the perceived "rip-off" society that has developed in Ireland, advocating reform of stealth taxes and stamp duty. [Fine Gael. [ 2007 General Election Manifesto] . Retrieved on 31 October 2007.]

The party is not identified particularly with belonging ideologically to social democracy [ [ Fine Gael - MSN Encarta ] ] [] [ [ What Fine Gael needs to do is find its bottom - National News, Frontpage - ] ] or explicitly of the centre-right. Currently, the party identifies generally with European political parties that identify themselves as being Christian-democratic [ [ Fine Gael’s European Strategy « EAST WEST EUROPE | Ireland and the Wider Europe, 2008 ] ] . Most members in the party are happy with the description of the "the progressive or compassionate centre".


Mayo TD Enda Kenny was elected leader of Fine Gael in a secret ballot of the parliamentary party on 5 June 2002. Kenny defeated Richard Bruton, Phil Hogan and Gay Mitchell in the leadership election, which was triggered by the resignation of Michael Noonan following the 2002 general election. The current deputy-leader of the party is Dublin North Central TD and party Finance spokesperson Richard Bruton. He was preceded as deputy leader by Jim Mitchell.

List of party leaders

Young Fine Gael

or YFG is the youth movement of Fine Gael. It was founded in 1976 by the then leader Dr. Garret Fitzgerald. It caters for young people under 30 with an interest in Fine Gael and politics, in cities, towns, parishes and third level colleges throughout Ireland. YFG claims the largest membership of Irish youth political parties, with 4,000 members.

YFG is lead by its national executive consisting of eleven members elected on a regional basis, and on a national panel. Barry Walsh is its current president.

In the coming period it has been suggested by members of its national executive, that it will also be extending associate membership to interested parties, particularly Irish students living outside of the state, primarily in Northern Ireland and the UK mainland.

YFG has run campaigns on European referenda, social issues, health care and housing. It was involved in campaigning for a 'yes' vote to the Lisbon Reform Treaty Referendum.

ee also

*List of political parties in the Republic of Ireland

Notes and references


* "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 links

* [ Official website]
* [ Young Fine Gael]

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