Tributes flow for Bruton after a quarter century at frontline of politics

Government Bruton led can reasonably claim to have played important roles in resolving the two great failures of the independent Irish State

Good morning.

Political news yesterday was dominated by the death of the former taoiseach John Bruton, and newspapers, including The Irish Times, have devoted lots of space to reflect on Bruton’s long and distinguished career.

Though he was a member of the Dáil for three and a half decades, and at the frontline of politics for a quarter century, the tributes to and obituaries of Bruton focus on his relatively brief – from January 1995-June 1997 – period as taoiseach leading the Rainbow government.

It was widely regarded as a good government, and Bruton as a good leader of it – as one of our articles today notes. It was a period which saw significant progress in efforts to resolve the two great failures of the independent Irish State, its economic underperformance and the conflict in Northern Ireland. The Government led by Bruton can reasonably claim to have played important roles in both.


Mr Bruton’s Fine Gael party was rewarded by voters, winning an extra nine seats at the subsequent 1997 election; but Labour was monstered, and Bertie Ahern beat Bruton in the race to be taoiseach. The rest, as they say, is history.

News report on John Bruton’s death

John Bruton obituary

Analysis of John Bruton’s career

Listen to our In the News podcast on his political career

The Irish Times view of John Bruton’s service to the State


There’s plenty of other political stories around this morning. A man has been charged with violent disorder and arson on the night of the Dublin riots – an event whose political reverberations continue.

The veteran Fianna Fáil TD Sean Haughey has announced he won’t contest the next election in Dublin North Central – a constituency that a Haughey has represented since the 1950s. Eras are ending all over the place.

The latest exchequer returns suggest the strong performance of the Irish economy, and its contribution to the exchequer, is continuing. We take this for granted now, but as the accounts of the career of John Bruton – Minister for Finance when the State was teetering on the edge of disaster – attest, it doesn’t have to be like this at all. Prosperity has not been the norm for much of the State’s existence. Eoin Burke-Kennedy’s report here

Best reads

Paul Cullen’s lead story on more “cases of concern” found in review of surgeries at Temple St Children’s Hospital

Kathy Sheridan writes in praise of Michelle O’Neill, and wonders what Joe Brolly is on about

Mark Paul on a sad story from the London Underground

Michael McDowell argues for a No vote


The Dáil meets at 2pm but normal business will be suspended and the Dáil will hear expressions of sympathy on the death of the former taoiseach before adjourning as a mark of respect.

It’ll be the same in the Seanad.

At the committees, Taoiseach Leo Varadkar is in to discuss his department’s spending estimates at the Finance Committee, while Eamon Ryan is in for the same rigmarole at the transport committee. Heather Humphreys does the same at the Social Protection Committee. Pick of the rest is a discussion at the Budgetary Oversight Committee on what climate change means for the public finances. Hint: it’s not good. The Fiscal Advisory Council are in for it. Full schedule here.

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