He was elected as a Member of the European Parliament for the Dublin constituency on 11 June 2004 and re-elected on June 7, 2009.
Gay is a full member of both the Development Committee, and the Committee on Economic and Monetary Affairs. He is also Vice-Chairman of the EU delegation to the ACP (African Caribbean Pacific) - EU Joint Parliamentary Assembly. He is a substitute member of the delegation for relations with the People's Republic of China.
First elected to the Dáil in 1981, Gay was Minister of State at the Department of the Taoiseach and the Department of Foreign Affairs with special responsibility for European Affairs (and preparation for the IGC in 1996), Local Development and the International Financial Services Centre from 1994 - 1997. He was the Irish Representative on the Reflection Group which prepared the Amsterdam Treaty.
He served for the second time as Fine Gael Front Bench Spokesperson on Foreign Affairs, June 2002 to October 2004. He was Chairman of the Joint Oireachtas Committee on European Affairs from July 2002 to October 2004 and was also Chairman of its sub-committee on EU Legislative Scrutiny. President-in-office COSAC (Committee of European Affairs of all EU Member States and the European Parliament) January - July 2004.
He was previously the Fine Gael spokesperson on Health 2000 - 2002, Foreign Affairs 1997 to June 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.
Gay was Chairman of the Dáil Committee of Public Accounts from 1987-1993, Vice-Chairman of the Select Committee on Crime, Lawlessness and Vandalism, 1982-1987 and Chairman of the Finance Committee of Dublin City Council 1979-1984. He was a Dublin City Councillor for 20 years (1979 -1995 and 1999 - 2003) and was Lord Mayor of Dublin in 1992/1993. He was founder and President Dublin International Sports Council (1992-1994), and also founder of the Dublin International IMPAC Literary Award.
Gay was Fine Gael's National Campaign Director in 1987 for the Single European Act Referendum, in 1992 for the Maastricht Treaty Referendum, and in 1998 for the Amterdam Treaty Referendum.
He was a member of the City of Dublin Vocational Education Committee 1979-1985, Chairman College of Commerce, Rathmines 1979-1984. He is a former member of the board of Our Lady's Hospital for Sick Children, Crumlin.
Fine Gael policy documents:
'Beyond Neutrality' (2000, updated 2004);
'Restoring Trust - a health plan for the nation' (2000); 'Concerning our Neighbours' - Development Issues (1999); 'Foundation for Transatlantic Co-operation' - EU/North American co-operation (1998 updated 2004);
'Ireland and the Partnership for Peace Initiative - Our Place in the New European Security Architecture' (1998).
He chaired the Advisory Group on Public Financial Accountability, the report of which had a major impact on the way the Dail oversees public spending and which prompted the Comptroller and Auditor General Act 1993 which brought in value for money auditing.
Published Private Members Bills include:
Electoral (Amendment) (Prisoners' Franchise) Bill 2005 International Peace Missions Deployment Bill 2003 (co-sponsored with Deputy Dinny McGinley) National Bureau of Crime Statistics Bill, 1993 Reform of the Courts (Administration) Bill, 1987
'EMU' -Rapporteur on two reports on monetary union for Oireachtas Committee on European Affairs.
'Smoking and Health' -Rapporteur for Oireachtas Committee on Health and Children, which contributed to ban on smoking in pubs.
European Parliament reports:
'External assistance: a financing instrument for development cooperation and economic cooperation' (DCECI) - Rapporteur for Committee on Development