John Gerard Bruton is a statesman and international business leader who served as Taoiseach (Prime Minister) of Ireland from 15 December 1994 to 26 June 1997. At the time of his appointment, he was the youngest Taoiseach ever.
Since 2001, John Bruton has spoken on global, European and Irish economic developments to influential business and political audiences in New Zealand, South Africa, Chile, Canada, Argentina, Mexico, Peru, Colombia, Costa Rica, Ukraine, Turkey, the United Arab Emirates, the United States and numerous EU Member States.
In 2010, John Bruton became chairman of the newly formed financial services body, International Financial Services Centre (“IFSC”) in Dublin, Ireland. The IFSC is a private sector body set up to develop the financial services industry in Ireland. He is a member of the board of Ingersoll Rand plc, and of Montpelier Re plc. He is also a member of the board of the Centre for European Policy Studies in Brussels. He is a Distinguished Fellow at the Johns Hopkins SAIS Center for Transatlantic Relations in Washington DC and a visiting fellow at the European Institute in the London School of Economics.
John Bruton resigned his seat in the Dáil Éireann effective 1 November 2004 to take up his appointment on 24 November 2004 as EU Commission Head of Delegation in the United States for a five-year term ending October 2009. While serving in his position as EU Ambassador in Washington, John Bruton met with the President and former Presidents of the United States and visited with governors, mayors, business leaders and students in over 20 US states to explain that a vibrant European Union is good for the US economy and good for American jobs. In Washington, DC, Ambassador Bruton had one-to-one meetings with over 250 Members of the US Congress to explain major EU developments and discuss the importance of the EU-US relationship in matters of trade, counterterrorism, public health, energy, the environment and the promotion of peace, democracy and human rights around the world.
As a leader on international and European Union matters, John Bruton was chosen as one of the two Irish Parliament Representatives among 102 members of the European Convention which helped draft the European Constitution, which was signed in Rome on 29 October 2004. He was one of two National Parliament Representatives to sit on the 12-member Praesidium, which helped steer the European Convention. He is a member of the Comité d'Honneur of the Institute of European Affairs, Ireland’s leading think tank on European and international affairs. From 1999 until his appointment as Ambassador, he was one of ten Vice Presidents of the European People’s Party, which brings together the leaderships of 74 European political parties.
During John Bruton’s term as Taoiseach (1994–1997), he helped transform the Irish economy into the "Celtic Tiger," one of the fastest growing economies in the world. The Irish economy grew at an annual average rate of 8.7%, peaking at 11.1% in 1997. He was also deeply involved in the Northern Irish Peace Process leading to the 1998 Good Friday Agreement, under whose terms a conflict of allegiances dating back to the 17th century was resolved. While Prime Minister, he presided over a successful Irish EU Presidency in 1996 and helped finalize the Stability and Growth Pact, which establishes macroeconomic parameters for countries participating in the single European currency, the euro. John Bruton addressed a joint session of the US Congress on 11 September 1996, as only the 30th head of state or government of an EU country to do so since 1945. During his presidency of the EU, he represented the EU at summit meetings with the President of the United States and with the Prime Ministers of Canada, Japan, China and Korea.
John Bruton has held a number of the top posts in Irish government including Minister for Finance (1981–1982 and 1986–1987); Minister for Industry & Energy (1982–1983); Minister for Trade, Commerce and Tourism (1983–1986) and Minister for the Public Service in 1987. As Minister for Finance, he began the task of overcoming a major budget deficit crisis for Ireland in 1981 and made proposals to overhaul budgetary procedures to allow long-term planning and a realistic appraisal of the choices facing legislators. As Minister for Industry he prepared and had enacted into law the comprehensive industrial development legislation that underpins Irish growth to this day, and undertook a major overhaul of Irish company law. He was appointed Parliamentary Secretary (Junior Minister) to the Minister for Education from 1973–1977 and to the Minister for Industry and Commerce from 1975–1977. He was first elected to Dáil Éireann (the national legislature of Ireland) in 1969 as a Teachta Dála (member of the Dáil Éireann) for Meath at the age of 22, as a member of the Fine Gael party. He became Party Leader of the Fine Gael in 1990 and led it into government in 1994. He served as Leader of Fine Gael from 1990 to 31 January 2001. He has also served as opposition spokesman on Agriculture and on Education. He served in government continuously from 1969 until his retirement from domestic politics in 2004.
In November 2008, John Bruton received the award of Commander Grand Cross of Sweden's Royal Order of the Polar Star for his service as a former president of the European Council and his work as EU ambassador. It is the highest honour Sweden can award to a foreigner.
Before leaving for the US in 2004, John Bruton became an Honorary Patron of the University Philosophical Society at Trinity College, Dublin. He regularly lectures at universities around the world, and he holds honorary doctorates from Memorial University of Newfoundland, the University of Missouri and the National University of Ireland.
John Bruton studied at University College Dublin where he received an honours Bachelor of Arts degree in economics and politics in 1968. He subsequently qualified as a barrister from King's Inns and was called to the Bar of Ireland in 1972.
He is married to Finola Bruton and has four adult children.
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