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John Bruton

Prime Minister of Ireland, 1994-97

As prime minister of Ireland (Taoiseach) from 1994 to 1997, John Bruton helped transform the Irish economy into the "Celtic Tiger," one of the fastest-growing economies in the world. In the year before he took office, the Irish economy grew by 2.7%. During his tenure as prime minister, the Irish economy grew at an average rate of 8.7% a year, peaking at 11.1% in 1997.

Mr. Bruton 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.

In 1996, Mr. Bruton presided over Ireland’s successful turn in the EU Presidency, during which the Stability and Growth Pact, which governs the management of the single European currency, was finalized.

From 2004 to 2009, Mr. Bruton served as the EU’s ambassador to the United States.

John Bruton was first elected to the Irish Parliament ("Dil éireann") in 1969 at the age of 22 as a member of the Fine Gael Party, becoming Party Leader in 1990 and leading it into government in 1994.

He previously served as Ireland’s Minister for Finance (1981-1982 and 1986-1987), Minister for Industry & Energy (1982-1983), Minister for Trade, Commerce & Tourism (1983-1986) and was Parliamentary Secretary (Junior Minister) from 1973-1977. He has also been opposition spokesman on Agriculture and on Education.

Mr. Bruton graduated from University College Dublin with a Bachelor’s degree in economics and politics before studying to become a barrister. He was called to the Bar of Ireland in 1972. He holds honorary degrees from Memorial University of Newfoundland and the National University of Ireland.

Articles by John Bruton

Brexit: How to Save UK Democracy

How might a new way forward on Brexit be uncovered, if the existing deal is not accepted?

March 27, 2019

Brexit: A Self-Harming Rush to the Gates

The rush for a quick Brexit harms the UK’s own interests. It is an irrational basis for deciding the future of Britain.

February 1, 2018

A Visit to the Brexit World

Mrs. May, tell us exactly what sort of deal you want with the EU customs union?

August 9, 2017

Message to London: Divorcing Is Hard to Do

The former Irish prime minister on the difficulty of pulling out the 40-year-old threads that bind the UK and the EU together.

August 1, 2016

The UK in the EU: The Pitfalls of Renegotiating Membership

Ireland's former Prime Minister on why renegotiating EU membership is not in the United Kingdom's own interests.

January 8, 2014

The EU’s Way of Managing Globalization Democratically

Does the EU have usefulness beyond providing peace and stability in Europe?

November 26, 2012

The Case for Eurobonds

Could eurobonds fill the gap left by the loss of confidence in government bonds generally?

October 18, 2011

Addressing the Root Cause of Europe’s Debt Woes

Why will a short-term debt relief plan for Europe lack credibility?

August 12, 2011

Rethinking Western Capitalism

How does the financial crisis reveal problems — but also create the political space to solve them?

November 11, 2010

Economies and the Three-Legged Stool

Does Paul Krugman really think it would be wise for Germany to blow all its savings on buying American exports today?

August 27, 2010

German Courts: Promoters of European Democracy? (Part III)

How can EU governance be reformed to prevent future financial crises?

May 10, 2010

The German Factor in Greece's Crisis (Part II)

Why is it in Germany's own interest to help bail Greece out of its present financial mess?

May 8, 2010

Europe's Exit from the Greek Crisis (Part I)

From Europe's standpoint, what's the upside to the Greek financial crisis?

May 7, 2010

Too Big to Fail?

How best to ensure that no bank is ever again allowed to be too big to fail?

March 17, 2010

A Strategy for Resuscitating Ireland

What measures need to be taken to ensure Ireland recovers from the economic crisis?

January 12, 2010

Copenhagen Is a Symptom of a Wider Failure

Why is the nation state no longer an effective organizing principle for today's world?

December 22, 2009