Thursday 23 November 2017

Michael Noonan to step down as Finance Minister - and won't run again for Dail

Enda Kenny with Michael Noonan in 2014
Enda Kenny with Michael Noonan in 2014
Niall O'Connor

Niall O'Connor

FINANCE Minister Michael Noonan is set to step down from the role.

He says he does not wish to be considered for cabinet by the candidate who succeeds Enda Kenny as Taoiseach. 

"Following the Taoiseach’s announcement yesterday, I want to state that I do not wish to be considered for Cabinet by his successor, whoever that may be," he said.

"I have been honoured to serve as Minister for Finance since March 2011 and have introduced 6 annual budgets and one supplementary budget.

"I believe now is a good time for a new Finance Minister to take up office.  Ireland is the fastest growing economy in Europe, the budget is almost balanced and we are on the cusp of full employment. 

"I will continue to carry out my duties as Minister for Finance until a successor is appointed. 

Finance Minister Michael Noonan Photo: Steve Humphreys
Finance Minister Michael Noonan Photo: Steve Humphreys

"I will not be seeking re-election to Dáil Éireann at the next General Election.  It has been a privilege to represent the people of Limerick since I was first elected in 1981 and I look forward to continuing to do so until an election is called."

For the last 36 years, Noonan's political career has been characterised by highs and remarkable lows.

Noonan has been a minister in every Fine Gael-led government since 1982, serving in the cabinets of Garret FitzGerald, John Bruton and Enda Kenny.

He won national prominence in December 1982 when Taoiseach Garret FitzGerald appointed him Justice Minister and he managed the fallout from the Fianna Fáil phone-tapping scandals and other controversies.

He was later Industry Minister and in the 1995-97 Rainbow Coalition he served as Health Minister, a job which was to give him much subsequent political grief.

Noonan had won the leadership in February 2001 as part of the 'dream team' with the late Jim Mitchell, as they ousted former Taoiseach John Bruton.

However, he did not connect with voters and Bertie Ahern's Fianna Fáil had a burgeoning economic boom. Noonan vainly tried to introduce quality of life issues into the 2002 election campaign with the slogan 'Vision With Purpose'. He had also promised the biggest of all tax giveaways, worth €2bn.

On the evening of May 18, 2002, he resigned as Fine Gael leader after an electoral meltdown, with the loss of 23 Dáil seats leaving them at a low last experienced in 1948.

However, his biggest campaign publicity came when he was struck in the face with a custard pie in Boyle, Co. Roscommon, on April 30, 2002. He took the defeat squarely on the chin.

After eight years as a backbencher, during which time he served as chairman of the Public Accounts Committee, Enda Kenny appointed Noonan to his front bench in 2010 as spokesperson on finance.

At the 2011 general election, he was re-elected as a TD and was appointed Minister for Finance.

Brendan Howlin TD, Leader of the Labour Party has said:

“I note the announcement this morning by Minister of Finance Michael Noonan of his intention to stand down at next election, and not to seek appointment to the next cabinet.

“Having worked closely with Michael over five difficult years, I have learned to admire his political skills and respect his manifest competence.

“I wish Michael well for the future.”

Meanwhile, Dr James Reilly has said he is quiting as deputy leader of the Fine Gael party. He also said that he will support Simon Coveney in the leadership battle.

Online Editors

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