George Colley

From Academic Kids

George Colley (October 18, 1925 - September 17, 1983), was a senior Irish politician. He was first elected as a Fianna Fáil TD in 1961 and at each election until his death. Colley served as Minister for Education (1965-1966), Minister for Industry & Commerce (1966-1970), Minister for Finance (1970-1973 & 1977-1979), Minister for Transport (1979-1980) and Minister for Energy (1980-1981). He was appointed Tánaiste in 1977 and was twice defeated for the leadership of Fianna Fáil in 1966 and 1979.

George Colley was born in Dublin an 1925. He was the son of Henry Colley, a TD and former adjutant if the IRA. He was educated at Marino Christian Brothers School in Dublin. He studied at University College Dublin and qualified as a solicitor. Colley had attended the same school as his life-long rival, Charles Haughey, and ironically had encouraged Haughey to join the Party in 1951. In 1961 the younger Colley was elected to Dáil Éireann in the same constituency as Haughey and the rivalry was intensified. Colley progressed rapidly through the ranks of Fianna Fáil.

In 1961 Colley was elected TD for Dublin North-East. Under Sean Lemass he held a number of posts, including Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Lands (1964); Minister for Education (1965); Minister for Industry and Commerce (1966).

In 1966, after five years in the Dáil, he was in a position to challenge for the leadership of the Party. Colley was more in tune with the traditional values of the Party - the peaceful re-unification of the country and the Irish language cause. He was the choice of party elders such as Seán MacEntee and Frank Aiken (Aiken managed Colley's campaign and was annoyed with Lemass' quick decision to retire before Colley had built up his support). Charles Haughey and Neil Blaney threw their hats into the ring for the contest but withdrew when Jack Lynch announced his intention to stand. Colley however didn't back down and the leadership issue went to a vote.

On 9 November 1966 the vote was taken. Lynch easily beat Colley by 59 votes to 19. In Jack Lynch's new Cabinet Colley retained his Industry & Commerce portfolio. In 1969 he was made Minister for the Gaeltacht while retaining his Industry and Commerce portfolio. Following the dismissal of Haughey in 1970, Colley was appointed Minister for Finance. The most important event of his tenure was the transition to decimalisation of the Irish currency in 1971.

In 1977 Fianna Fáil returned to power and Colley became Minister for Finance and the Public Service as well as Tánaiste. In December 1979 Jack Lynch resigned as Taoiseach and Fianna Fáil leader. It is said that Colley encouraged Lynch to retire one month earlier than planned because he felt that he had the necessary numbers to win a leadership contest and that the quick decision would catch Charles Haughey and his supporters off guard. The battle that the Party was denied 13 years earlier was now a reality - it was Haughey V. Colley. The support for both candidates was about even throughout the campaign. Colley had the backing of the majority of the Cabinet and the Party hierarchy, while Haughey relied on backbench support. On Friday 7 December 1979 the secret ballot vote was taken. Haughey beat Colley by 44 votes to 38. For the second time Colley was defeated for the leadership of the Party. Colley remained as Tánaiste and demanded and got a veto on Haughey's appointments to the Departments of Justice and Defence. As Minister for Energy he suspended the Nuclear Energy Boards plans for Carnsore Point on hold.

Following the 1982 General Election Colley demanded the veto again, however this time he was refused. When it was revealed he was not to be appointed Tánaiste in favour of Ray MacSharry he refused to serve in the Cabinet. He relenquished his leadership ambitions and supported Desmond O'Malley in many of the leadership heaves against Haughey in the early 1980's.

On 17 September, 1983 George Colley died suddenly in London while receiving treatment for a heart condition. He is survived by his wife, three sons and four daughters.

Political Career

Preceded by:
Brian Lenihan
Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Lands
Succeeded by:
Office Ceases to Exist

Template:Succession box one to two

Preceded by:
Pádraig Faulkner
Minister for the Gaeltacht
Succeeded by:
Tom O'Donnell
Preceded by:
Charles J. Haughey
Minister for Finance
Succeeded by:
Richie Ryan
Preceded by:
Brendan Corish
Succeeded by:
Michael O'Leary

Template:Succession box two to two

Preceded by:
Pádraig Faulkner
Minister for Tourism & Transport
Succeeded by:
Albert Reynolds
Preceded by:
Michael O'Kennedy
Minister for Energy
Succeeded by:
Michael O'Leary

Template:End box

Template:Tánaistithe na hÉireann


Academic Kids Menu

  • Art and Cultures
    • Art (
    • Architecture (
    • Cultures (
    • Music (
    • Musical Instruments (
  • Biographies (
  • Clipart (
  • Geography (
    • Countries of the World (
    • Maps (
    • Flags (
    • Continents (
  • History (
    • Ancient Civilizations (
    • Industrial Revolution (
    • Middle Ages (
    • Prehistory (
    • Renaissance (
    • Timelines (
    • United States (
    • Wars (
    • World History (
  • Human Body (
  • Mathematics (
  • Reference (
  • Science (
    • Animals (
    • Aviation (
    • Dinosaurs (
    • Earth (
    • Inventions (
    • Physical Science (
    • Plants (
    • Scientists (
  • Social Studies (
    • Anthropology (
    • Economics (
    • Government (
    • Religion (
    • Holidays (
  • Space and Astronomy
    • Solar System (
    • Planets (
  • Sports (
  • Timelines (
  • Weather (
  • US States (


  • Home Page (
  • Contact Us (

  • Clip Art (
Personal tools