Michael was educated at Thurles CBS and began his community activity as Secretary of the Local Holycross – Ballycahill GAA Club. He was appointed Chairman of the Mid Tipperary Divisional Board in 1982.
Michael was first elected to Tipperary North Riding County Council in 1979. He had a trajectory of advancement and became the youngest ever Tipperary County Board Chairman. During Michael’s three year term he was responsible for a new era of Semi-Professionalism for the Senior Hurling Panel.

“He had a trajectory of advancement and became the youngest ever Tipperary County Board Chairman.”

The method of appointing selectors for the Senior County team was reviewed which led to the appointment of ‘Babs’ Keating. Babs subsequently led Tipperary to a Munster Final victory in 1987 following a famine of sixteen years. This paved the way for All Ireland victory for Tipperary in 1989.

Michael was appointed Chairman of the Semple Stadium Management Committee in 1986. The stadium was on the brink of insolvency with €1.5million in debts following the 1984 GAA Centenary expenditure. The pop festival ‘Feile’, The Trip to Tipp was the brainchild of Michael who introduced it as a means of successfully repaying the outstanding debts. To this day it is known as one of the best pop festivals of all time in Ireland.

His continued success led Michael to Dáil Éireann where he was elected as a Fine Gael TD for Tipperary North in the 1987 General Election. In 1993 he became Chairman of the Fine Gael Parliamentary Party. 1994 saw him lead the Fine Gael negotiations that resulted in the formation of the Rainbow Government under John Bruton with Labour and Democratic Left. Michael was subsequently appointed Minister for Transport, Energy and Communications where he was responsible for:

  • The restructuring of CIE and Aer Lingus
  • Cost & Competitiveness review of the ESB
  • Securing the future of Bord Na Mona – 120million of equity
  • The reform of An Post
  • The launch of the LUAS project
  • The sale of TEAM Aer Lingus to SRS Technic
  • The Rationalisation of State Bodies
  • Investment Programme in Regional Airports
  • Extension of DART
  • New East Midlands Power Station 120 MW £21m