Charlie McCreevy

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Charlie McCreevy

Charles (Charlie) McCreevy, (born September 1949) is a senior Irish politician. He was first elected to Dáil Éireann as a Fianna Fáil TD in 1977 and held the seat in Kildare North until 2004 when he resigned to become Ireland's European Commissioner. In the intervening years he served in successive governments as Minister for Social Welfare (1992-1993), Minister for Tourism & Trade (1993-1994) and Minister for Finance (1997-2004).


Early life and career

Born in Sallins, County Kildare, McCreevy was educated locally at Naas CBS and at Gormanstown Franciscan College. He studied Commerce at University College Dublin and went on to become a chartered accountant. His political career began with his Kildare North victory in the 1977 landslide election and he has been re-elected at every subsequent election. Between 1979 and 1985 he was also elected as member of Kildare County Council.

Relationship with Charles Haughey

In the December 1979 Fianna Fáil leadership contest, McCreevy strongly supported the controversial Charles Haughey who narrowly won the post. However, in a time of severe budgetary difficulties for Ireland, McCreevy soon became disillusioned with the new Taoiseach and his policies. In October 1982 McCreevy launched a motion of no-confidence in the party leader, which evolved into a leadership challenge by Desmond O'Malley. In an open ballot and supported by only 21 of his 79 colleagues (known as the "gang of 22"), the motion failed and McCreevy was temporarily expelled from the parliamentary party. In later years O'Malley was expelled from Fianna Fáil itself and formed the Progressive Democrats (PDs), espousing conservative fiscal policies. Although considered ideologically close to the PDs, McCreevy chose to remain a member of Fianna Fáil, where he would eventually serve in joint FF-PD Governments.

Early ministerial career

For his first 15 years as TD, while Haughey remained leader, McCreevy remained on the backbenches without promotion. In 1992, Albert Reynolds became party leader and Taoiseach and McCreevy was appointed Minister for Social Welfare. As minister, he implemented a set of 12 unpopular cost-cutting measures, collectively known as the "dirty dozen". In 1993 he became Minister for Tourism & Trade, which he held until the government fell in December 1994. In opposition, and under new Fianna Fáil leader Bertie Ahern, McCreevy was named to the Front Bench as Spokesman for Finance.

Minister for Finance

In 1997, Fianna Fáil returned to power and McCreevy was the automatic choice as Minister for Finance. His period coincided with the Celtic Tiger era which saw the rapid growth of the Irish economy. A consistent advocate of cutting taxes and spending, he now had an opportunity to implement these policies. In 1999 he announced the biggest give-away Budget in the history of the state. His budget included 'individualisation' measures to reduce the tax-burden for couples where both parties were earning. However, couples on a similar income where one parent worked in the home would not see a reduction in their tax bill and following much public debate the measures were watered down. It later emerged that his Tax Strategy group had advised against introducing individualisation.

During his term in Finance, he made many changes to simplify the tax system and presided over Irelands entry to European Monetary Union and later, the changeover to the Euro. In the early 2000s, when Irish economic growth fell back, he maintained strict control on growth in government spending.

Frequently outspoken, McCreevy sometimes makes comments that are out-of-line with his party colleagues and attract controversy. McCreevy once referred to the Irish health system as a "black hole" and reacted to the Irish rejection of the Nice Treaty as "good for democracy".

European Commissioner

In 2004, McCreevy was selected by Ahern to replace David Byrne as Ireland's European Commissioner. Incoming Commission President José Manuel Durão Barroso appointed him to the Internal Market and Services portfolio. At his confirmation hearings in the European Parliament MEPs described him as “fluent and relaxed” giving straightforward answers in a refreshing and engaging manner.

Quote from the Commissioners web page: "You will find me ready to meet, discuss, listen and argue on how best to deliver to our citizens the real benefits of an Internal Market. There are enormous challenges facing the EU in the coming period on which we all must find common ground. I want our policies to show that EU means something real and positive to the people in Europe" (Source (

As a result of this appointment, he resigned his constituency seat in Dáil Éireann on November 1 2004. His son, Charlie McCreevy Jr., declined the opportunity to be the Fianna Fail candidate in the resulting by-election and the seat was won by an independent candidate.

External links

Political Career

Preceded by:
Brendan Daly
Minister for Social Welfare
Succeeded by:
Michael Woods
Preceded by:
Máire Geoghegan-Quinn
Minister for Transport, Energy & Communications
Succeeded by:
Brian Cowen
Preceded by:
Brian Cowen
Minister for Tourism & Trade
Succeeded by:
Enda Kenny
Preceded by:
Ruairí Quinn
Minister for Finance
Succeeded by:
Brian Cowen

Template:Succession box two to one Template:End box

Template:Barroso Commissionde:Charlie McCreevy


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