Gay Mitchell

For the Galway Gaelic footballer, see Gay Mitchell (Gaelic footballer).
Gay Mitchell
Member of the European Parliament
In office
June 2004  June 2014
Constituency Dublin
Minister of State for European Affairs
In office
20 December 1994  26 June 1997
Taoiseach John Bruton
Preceded by Position established
Succeeded by Dick Roche
Teachta Dála
In office
11 June 1981  24 May 2007
Constituency Dublin South-Central
Personal details
Born (1951-12-30) 30 December 1951
Dublin, Ireland
Political party Fine Gael
Spouse(s) Norma Mitchell
Children 4
Alma mater Dublin Institute of Technology
Queen's University Belfast

Gabriel "Gay" Mitchell (born 30 December 1951) is an Irish former Fine Gael politician. He was a Member of the European Parliament (MEP) for the Dublin constituency from 2004 to 2014. He was a Teachta Dála (TD) for the Dublin South-Central constituency from 1981 to 2007.[1] He was defeated by Enda Kenny in the 2002 Fine Gael leadership election. Mitchell was the Fine Gael candidate at the 2011 Irish presidential election.


Gabriel Mitchell was born in Inchicore, Dublin in 1951. Mitchell's mother, Eileen, was left a widow with nine children whom she supported by working as an office cleaner. He was educated at St. Michael's Congregation of Christian Brothers, Emmet Road Vocational School, Dublin Institute of Technology, College of Commerce, and Queen's University Belfast. His brother, Jim Mitchell, was a long-serving Fine Gael TD and former government minister.

Political career

He first became involved in politics in 1979 as a member of Dublin City Council. He was first elected to Dáil Éireann as a Fine Gael TD in the 1981 general election for the Dublin South-Central constituency.[2] Since then he has served as a Minister of State at the Department of the Taoiseach and the Department of Foreign Affairs with special responsibility for European Affairs. He was the Irish Representative on the Reflection Group which prepared the Amsterdam Treaty.

Mitchell is also a former Lord Mayor of Dublin and, while never holding full cabinet rank, has served on the opposition front bench as spokesperson on Health (2000–2002), Foreign Affairs (1997–2000), Justice (1993–1994), Public Service and Constitutional Reform (1991–1992), Tourism and Transport (1989–1991), European Integration (1988–1989), Urban Renewal (1987–1988) and Health Board Reform (1981–1982).

Following Michael Noonan's resignation as Fine Gael leader in 2002, Mitchell was a challenger in the subsequent leadership election, losing out to the victor, Enda Kenny.[3] Before his election to the European Parliament, he had been party spokesperson on Foreign Affairs, writing the party's "Beyond Neutrality" policy document.

In November 2006, Mitchell announced that he had taken the difficult decision not to contest the 2007 general election and concentrate on his European Parliament seat.[4] Mitchell is a Vice Chair of the ACP–EU Joint Parliamentary Assembly.

During the 2008 referendum on the Treaty of Lisbon, Mitchell was Fine Gael's director of elections for the referendum.

Mitchell is a former member of the European Parliament Committee on Development, the Special Committee on the Financial, Economic and Social Crisis and the delegation to the ACP–EU Joint Parliamentary Assembly. He was also a substitute member of the Committee on Economic and Monetary Affairs and the delegation for relations with the People's Republic of China.

Mitchell is the author of By Dáil Account, the first book published in Ireland on the history and role of the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) and the office of Comptroller and Auditor General. In September 2010, the Brussels-based Parliament Magazine named him "MEP of the Year" having previously nominated him for the award.[5]

In June 2011, Mitchell refused to release details of his expense and allowance claims as a member of the European Parliament.[6]

In March 2013, he said he would not stand at the 2014 European Parliament election.[7]

2011 presidential campaign

In 2011, Mitchell announced his intention to seek the Fine Gael nomination for the Irish presidential election. On 9 July 2011, he was chosen as the Fine Gael candidate at a special convention.[8] He announced on The Late Late Show on 30 September 2011 that he expected his campaign for the presidency would cost €350,000.[9] Mitchell's unsuccessful attempt to bring the Summer Olympic Games to Dublin was also discussed, with the former lord mayor saying he "set up 10 committees" in his attempt to make it happen.[10]

Mitchell launched his presidential campaign with Taoiseach Enda Kenny on 3 October 2011.[11] That same day he was involved in controversy when he made a joke about suicide on Newstalk's The Right Hook programme. He promised to "jump off O'Connell Bridge" if he was asked to smile.[12] Founding Secretary of the Irish Association of Suicidology Dr John Connolly described Mitchell's comment as "unfortunate".[13]

Clemency pleas

Following the initial withdrawal of David Norris from the 2011 presidential campaign after it was revealed that Norris had sought clemency for his former partner from a statutory rape conviction, it was subsequently pointed out that Mitchell had also sought clemency for a convict, in his case for Army of God member and double-murderer Paul Jennings Hill,[14] a fact that had been public knowledge for eight years.[15]

On 22 March 2002 Amina Lawal was sentenced her to death by stoning for adultery and for conceiving a child out of wedlock,[16] as chair of the Oireachtas European Affairs Committee, Mitchell met with the Nigerian ambassador to Ireland to protest the sentence at the time.[17]

Another convict Mitchell sought clemency for was Louis Truesdale, who was convicted in 1980 of the rape and murder of 18-year-old Rebecca Ann Eudy.[18] The victim's mother, Evelyn Eudy said that she "was appalled to hear Mr Mitchell was running as a presidential candidate in Ireland". According to newspaper reports when he was questioned about these letters on 27 August 2011, he "became quite incensed" and revealed that he has written "a number" of clemency pleas.[19]

Views on homosexuality

When asked for his views on same-sex marriage in a radio interview with Pat Kenny on 12 August 2011, Mitchell said he did not want to do anything that "weakens marriage" but that he had supported civil unions.[20] In 2004 Mitchell defended Italian MEP Rocco Buttiglione's remarks when he referred to homosexuality as a sin.[21]

Mitchell has been questioned as to whether or not he is a member of the European Catholic group Dignitatis Humanae Institute, which he denied on the same radio interview with Pat Kenny,[22] However, according to Benjamin Harnwell, the institute's founding chairman Mitchell helped formulate the charter that became the institute's Universal Declaration of Human Dignity.[23][24] In the same interview Mitchell was also asked whether or not he is a member of the Iona Institute (who reject the notion of same-sex marriages), which he also denied, however in September 2007, he did host a conference (The Fragmenting Family) on behalf of the Iona Institute.[25]

See also


  1. "Mr. Gay Mitchell". Oireachtas Members Database. Retrieved 9 May 2009.
  2. "Gay Mitchell". Retrieved 9 May 2009.
  3. "The line of leaders since FitzGerald". The Irish Times. 14 June 2010.
  4. "Fox & Mitchell not standing in election". RTÉ News. 24 November 2006.
  5. "Gay Mitchell receives MEP Award". Eurostep. 29 September 2010.
  6. "Two MEPs in President race refuse to give expense details". Irish Independent. 24 June 2011. Retrieved 28 September 2011.
  7. "Gay Mitchell will not run in 2014 MEP elections". Newstalk. 14 March 2013.
  8. De Bréadún, Deaglán (9 July 2011). "Mitchell chosen as FG candidate". The Irish Times. Retrieved 9 July 2011.
  9. O'Halloran, Marie; Cullen, Paul (1 October 2011). "Campaigns to cost up to €350,000, say candidates". The Irish Times. Retrieved 1 October 2011.
  10. Cullen, Paul (1 October 2011). "Presidential debate gives viewers few talking points". The Irish Times. Retrieved 1 October 2011.
  11. "Gay Mitchell Launches Presidential Campaign". 98 FM. 3 October 2011. Retrieved 3 October 2011.
  12. "Mitchell makes 'jump off O'Connell Bridge' remark". Irish Examiner. 3 October 2011. Retrieved 3 October 2011.
  13. "Mitchell remarks on suicide 'unfortunate'". RTÉ News. 3 October 2011. Retrieved 3 October 2011.
  14. "FG defends clemency plea by Mitchell for double murderer". The Irish Examiner. 3 August 2011. Retrieved 3 August 2011.
  15. "FG appeal over murderer's execution". RTÉ News. 3 September 2008. Retrieved 5 August 2011.
  16. Facing Death for Adultery, Nigerian Woman Is Acquitted
  17. "Mitchell camp still refusing to release anti-execution letters". Irish Independent. 15 October 2011. Retrieved 15 October 2011.
  18. "Amnesty International Report on the Death Penalty". Retrieved 28 September 2011.
  19. O'Connell, Edel (27 August 2011). "Mitchell furious over focus on pleas for murderers". Irish Independent. Retrieved 28 August 2011.
  20. "Mitchell defends EU role in Irish affairs". The Irish Times. 13 August 2011.
  21. "Mitchell defends Italian MEP". The Irish Times. 15 October 2004.
  22. "RTÉ Radio, The Pat Kenny Show, 12 August 2011.". RTÉ. Retrieved 28 September 2011.
  23. Universal Deceleration of Human Dignity
  24. "Zenit on Dignitatis Humanae Institute". Zenit. 31 March 2011. Retrieved 28 September 2011.
  25. "Increase in marriage breakdown a disaster for children, says expert". CI News. 15 September 2007.
Preceded by
Philip Brady
Fianna Fáil
Fine Gael Teachta Dála for Dublin South-Central
Succeeded by
Catherine Byrne
Fine Gael
Civic offices
Preceded by
Seán Kenny
Lord Mayor of Dublin
Succeeded by
Tomás Mac Giolla
Political offices
New office Minister of State for European Affairs
Succeeded by
Dick Roche
European Parliament
Preceded by
Mary Banotti
Member of the European Parliament for Dublin
Succeeded by
Brian Hayes
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