Noonan wins Fine Gael race, appoints Mitchell as deputy

Mr Michael Noonan has succeeded Mr John Bruton as leader of Fine Gael

Mr Michael Noonan has succeeded Mr John Bruton as leader of Fine Gael. Mr Noonan defeated Mr Enda Kenny by a margin of 44 votes to 28 in a straight two-way vote. He immediately appointed Mr Jim Mitchell as his deputy.

Mr Michael Noonan

The new party leader is giving a press conference in the Mansion House, Dublin this afternoon.

The party’s 72 TDs, senators and MEPs assembled for the 2-hour meeting shortly after 11 a.m. in the basement room of the new Leinster House building. The announcement was made by party chairman Mr Phil Hogan at 1.11 p.m. this afternoon.

"We will take the fight to the country on behalf of Fine Gael," said Mr Hogan, introducing the victor and the vanquished. The announcement was greeted by roars of approval from gathered supporters.


Mr Kenny spoke first, joking the party did not know what they were missing. In reference to his future relationship to Mr Noonan, the Mayo TD said: "I pledge to give him my full and total support in the drive to take government from Fianna Fáil in the next election."

The new leader then spoke, thanking the parliamentary party for their support. Going into the vote Mr Noonan was believed to have had 30 committed voters but the 44 votes he received will be viewed as a comfortable victory, vindicating the bookies tag as 6/1 odds-on favourite.

"FG is a great party we’re at our best when we’re energised," said a jubilant Mr Noonan. He said his election was "about ensuring that the country has an alternative to Fianna Fáil."

Shortly before the vote, Mr Jim Mitchell announced he was dropping out of the contest. Though he kept his cards close to his chest until the last hour, speculation had surrounded his intentions, particularly as he met Mr Noonan last night to discuss strategy. It was Mr Noonan and Mr Mitchell who tabled the motion of no confidence in Mr Bruton.

Mr Mitchell’s withdrawal meant there was no requirement for the complex proportional representation system employed by the party so the result was available within half-an-hour of the vote beginning.

Mr Bernard Allen, TD for Cork North Central withdrew from the contest last night, conceding he did not have enough support to seriously challenge for the leadership.

Pádraig Collins

Pádraig Collins

Pádraig Collins a contributor to The Irish Times based in Sydney