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Michael Noonan

Michael Noonan (born 1943) is an Irish politician and was the leader of Fine Gael from 2001 to 2002.

Michael Noonan was born in Limerick and was educated locally and at University College, Dublin. On leaving university Noonan became a teacher. In 1974 he was elected to Limerick County Council, where he served until 1981. In that year he was elected as a Fine Gael TD for Limerick East. He has been re-elected at every election since.

After just 18 months in the Dáil Noonan was appointed Minister for Justice by Garret Fitzgerald. In 1986 he became Minister for Industry, Commerce and Trade. He took responsibility of the Energy portfolio when the Labour party withdrew from the government. However the government fell in 1987 and Fine Gael were confined to the opposition benches. Between 1991 and 1994 Noonan served on Limerick County Council again.

In 1994 the 'Rainbow Coalition' was formed and Noonan became Minister for Health. The department was embroiled in a scandal at the time regarding blood products contaminated with hepatitis C virus. He refused to resign and remained as Minister until the election in 1997. Fine Gael lost the subsequent election and Noonan became opposition spokesman for Finance. In 2001 Noonan and his colleague, Jim Mitchell, tabledd a motion of no confidence in the leader, John Bruton. The motion was successful in ousting Bruton as leader. Noonan became leader of Fine Gael and Jim Mitchell became deputy leader.

However, in the 2002 general election Fine Gael had a disastrous result. The party dropped from 54 TDs to 31 TDs. Noonan resigned as Fine Gael leader on the night of the election. He was replaced by Enda Kenny, the loser to Noonan in his original leadership battle to replace Bruton in 2001. Michael Noonan continued in the Dáil Éireann.