Monday 18 December 2017

A heavy-hitter in Europe who's not short of confidence


Fionnan Sheahan

PAT Cox's latest political incarnation will see him gamble on becoming the first Fine Gael candidate to become President.

But the former Progressive Democrat and European Parliament president is up against a formidable foe in Mairead McGuinness for the Fine Gael nomination, so there's no guarantee of success. And Cox has lost a divisive internal battle to a strong female candidate before: Mary Harney beat him for the PD leadership in 1993.

The 59-year-old is from Dublin, but grew up in Limerick. Cox went to college in the University of Limerick and Trinity College, Dublin, and became a TV personality following a career as a journalist with RTE's flagship current affairs programme, 'Today Tonight', the predecessor of 'Prime Time'. He left RTE to run for the PDs.

He was elected as an MEP for Munster in 1989 and went on to win a seat in the Dail in the 1992 general election, for Cork South-Central. When Des O'Malley resigned as PD leader the following year, Cox went for the leadership, but was beaten by Harney.

He became deputy leader, but left the party in 1994 in a row over the European elections. O'Malley became the PD candidate -- but Cox decided to defend his seat as an Independent, and beat O'Malley.

He rose to prominence in Brussels, becoming president of the European Parliament in 2002. His role was widely hailed as a success, but he did not run in 2004. Since then, he has remained an active campaigner on European affairs and worked as a consultant. He is seen as a political heavy-hitter who is not short of confidence.

Irish Independent

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