Taoiseach

The Taoiseach (/ˈtiːʃəx/ (listen))[2] is the prime minister and head of government of Ireland.[note 2] The Taoiseach is appointed by the President upon the nomination of Dáil Éireann, the lower house of the Oireachtas (parliament), and must, in order to remain in office, retain the support of a majority in the Dáil.

The word taoiseach means "chief" or "leader" in Irish and was adopted in the 1937 Constitution of Ireland as the title of the "head of the Government, or Prime Minister".[note 2] Taoiseach is the official title of the head of government in both English and Irish, and is not used for other countries' prime ministers (who are referred to in Irish as Príomh Aire). The Irish form, An Taoiseach, is sometimes used in English instead of "the Taoiseach". Outside of Ireland, the Taoiseach is sometimes referred to as the Prime Minister of Ireland.[3]

Leo Varadkar TD is the current Taoiseach; he took office on 14 June 2017,[4] following his election as leader of Fine Gael on 2 June 2017.[5] Varadkar is the youngest Taoiseach in the history of the Irish state, having taken office at the age of 38; he is also the first openly LGBT person, and the first person of Indian descent, to lead the Irish government.

Taoiseach
Leo Varadkar 2016
Incumbent
Leo Varadkar

since 14 June 2017
Department of the Taoiseach
StyleTaoiseach
Irish: A Thaoisigh
Member of
Reports toOireachtas
ResidenceSteward's Lodge
SeatGovernment Buildings,
Merrion Street, Dublin, Ireland
NominatorDáil Éireann
AppointerPresident of Ireland
Term lengthWhile commanding the confidence of the majority of Dáil Éireann. No term limits are imposed on the office.
Inaugural holderÉamon de Valera[note 1]
Formation29 December 1937[note 1]
DeputyTánaiste
Salary€199,136[1]
Websitetaoiseach.ie

Overview

Under the Constitution of Ireland, the Taoiseach is nominated by a simple majority of Dáil Éireann from among its members. He/she is then formally appointed to office by the President, who is required to appoint whomever the Dáil designates, without the option of declining to make the appointment. For this reason, it is often said that the Taoiseach is "elected" by Dáil Éireann.

If the Taoiseach loses the support of a majority in Dáil Éireann, he/she is not automatically removed from office but, rather, is compelled either to resign or to persuade the President to dissolve the Dáil. The President may refuse to grant a dissolution and, in effect, force the Taoiseach to resign; to date, no president has exercised this prerogative, though the option arose in 1944 and 1994, and twice in 1982. The Taoiseach may lose the support of Dáil Éireann by the passage of a vote of no confidence, or implicitly through the failure of a vote of confidence; or alternatively, the Dáil may refuse supply.[note 3] In the event of the Taoiseach's resignation, he/she continues to exercise the duties and functions of his/her office until the appointment of a successor.

The Taoiseach nominates the remaining members of the Government, who are then, with the consent of the Dáil, appointed by the President. The Taoiseach also has authority to advise the President to dismiss cabinet ministers from office, advice the President is required to follow by convention. The Taoiseach is further responsible for appointing eleven members of the Seanad.

The Department of the Taoiseach is the government department which supports and advises the Taoiseach in carrying out his/her various duties.

Salary

Since 2013, the Taoiseach's annual salary is €185,350.[6] It was cut from €214,187 to €200,000 when Enda Kenny took office, before being cut further to €185,350 under the Haddington Road Agreement in 2013.

A proposed increase of €38,000 in 2007 was deferred when Brian Cowen became Taoiseach[7] and in October 2008, the government announced a 10% salary cut for all ministers, including the Taoiseach.[8] However this was a voluntary cut and the salaries remained nominally the same with both ministers and Taoiseach essentially refusing 10% of their salary. This courted controversy in December 2009 when a salary cut of 20% was based on the higher figure before the refused amount was deducted.[9] The Taoiseach is also allowed an additional €118,981 in annual expenses.

Residence

There is no official residence of the Taoiseach. In 2008 it was reported speculatively that the former Steward's Lodge at Farmleigh adjoining the Phoenix Park would become the official residence of the Taoiseach; however no official statements were made nor any action taken.[10] The house, which forms part of the Farmleigh estate acquired by the State in 1999 for €29.2m, was renovated at a cost of nearly €600,000 in 2005 by the Office of Public Works. Former Taoiseach Bertie Ahern did not use it as a residence, but his successor Brian Cowen used it "from time to time".[11]

History

Origins and etymology

The words Taoiseach (Irish: [ˈt̪ˠiːʃəx]) and Tánaiste (the title of the deputy prime minister) are both from the Irish language and of ancient origin. Though the Taoiseach is described in the Constitution of Ireland as "the head of the Government or Prime Minister",[note 2] its literal translation is chieftain or leader.[12] Although Éamon de Valera, who introduced the title in 1937, was neither a Fascist nor a dictator, it has sometimes been remarked that the meaning leader in 1937 made the title similar to the titles of Fascist dictators of the time, such as Führer (Hitler), Duce (Mussolini) and Caudillo (Franco).[13][14][15] Tánaiste, in turn, refers to the system of tanistry, the Gaelic system of succession whereby a leader would appoint an heir apparent while still living.

In Scottish Gaelic, tòiseach translates as clan chief and both words originally had similar meanings in the Gaelic languages of Scotland and Ireland.[note 4][16][17][note 5] The related Welsh language word tywysog (current meaning: prince) has a similar origin and meaning.[note 6] It is hypothesized that both derive ultimately from the proto-Celtic *towissākos "chieftain, leader".

The plural of taoiseach is taoisigh (Irish: [t̪ˠiːʃiː]).[12]

Although the Irish form An Taoiseach is sometimes used in English instead of "the Taoiseach",[18] the English version of the Constitution states that he or she "shall be called ... the Taoiseach".[note 2]

Debate on the title

In 1937 when the draft Constitution of Ireland was being debated in the Dáil, Frank MacDermot, an opposition politician, moved an amendment to substitute "Prime Minister" for the proposed "Taoiseach" title in the English text of the Constitution. It was proposed to keep the "Taoiseach" title in the Irish language text. The proponent remarked:[19]

It seems to me to be mere make-believe to try to incorporate a word like "Taoiseach" in the English language. It would be pronounced wrongly by 99 percent of the people. I have already ascertained it is a very difficult word to pronounce correctly. That being so, even for the sake of the dignity of the Irish language, it would be more sensible that when speaking English we should be allowed to refer to the gentleman in question as the Prime Minister... It is just one more example of the sort of things that are being done here as if for the purpose of putting off the people in the North. No useful purpose of any kind can be served by compelling us, when speaking English, to refer to An Taoiseach rather than to the Prime Minister.

The President of the Executive Council, Éamon de Valera, gave the term's meaning as "chieftain" or "Captain". He said he was "not disposed" to support the proposed amendment and felt the word "Taoiseach" did not need to be changed. The proposed amendment was defeated on a vote and "Taoiseach" was included as the title ultimately adopted by plebiscite of the people.[20]

Modern office

The modern position of Taoiseach was established by the 1937 Constitution of Ireland and is the most powerful role in Irish politics. The office replaced the position of President of the Executive Council of the 1922–1937 Irish Free State.

The positions of Taoiseach and President of the Executive Council differed in certain fundamental respects. Under the Constitution of the Irish Free State, the latter was vested with considerably less power and was largely just the chairman of the cabinet, the Executive Council. For example, the President of the Executive Council could not dismiss a fellow minister on his own authority. Instead, the Executive Council had to be disbanded and reformed entirely in order to remove a member. The President of the Executive Council also did not have the right to advise the Governor-General to dissolve Dáil Éireann on his own authority, that power belonging collectively to the Executive Council.

In contrast, the Taoiseach created in 1937 possesses a much more powerful role. He can both advise the President to dismiss ministers and dissolve Parliament on his own authority—advice that the President is almost always required to follow by convention.[note 7] His role is greatly enhanced because under the Constitution, he is both de jure and de facto chief executive. In most other parliamentary democracies, the head of state is at least the nominal chief executive, while being bound by convention to act on the advice of the cabinet. In Ireland, however, executive power is explicitly vested in the Government, of which the Taoiseach is the leader.

Since the Taoiseach is the head of government, and may remove ministers at will, many of the powers specified, in law or the constitution, to be exercised by the government as a collective body, are in reality at the will of the Taoiseach. The Government almost always backs the Taoiseach in major decisions, and in many cases often merely formalizes that decision at a subsequent meeting after it has already been announced. Nevertheless the need for collective decision making on paper acts as a safeguard against an unwise decision made by the Taoiseach.

Historically, where there have been multi-party or coalition governments, the Taoiseach has been the leader of the largest party in the coalition. One exception to this was John A. Costello, who was not leader of his party, but an agreed choice to head the government, because the other parties refused to accept then Fine Gael leader Richard Mulcahy as Taoiseach. In 2010 Taoiseach Brian Cowen, in the midst of highly unpopular spending cuts after the global financial crash, maintained his position as Taoiseach until new elections, but stood down as leader of Fianna Fáil and allowed Micheál Martin (who had resigned in protest at the way Cowen responded to the crises) to succeed him.

List of office holders

Before the enactment of the 1937 Constitution, the head of government was referred to as the President of the Executive Council. This office was first held by W. T. Cosgrave of Cumann na nGaedheal from 1922–32, and then by Éamon de Valera of Fianna Fáil from 1932–37. By convention, Taoisigh are numbered to include Cosgrave;[21][22][23][24] for example, Leo Varadkar is considered the 14th Taoiseach, not the 13th.

President of the Executive Council

No. Portrait Name
(Birth–Death)
Constituency
Term of office Party Exec. Council
Composition
Vice President Dáil
(elected)
1 William Thomas Cosgrave W. T. Cosgrave
(1880–1965)
TD for Carlow–Kilkenny until 1927
TD for Cork Borough from 1927
6 December
1922[note 8]
9 March
1932
Sinn Féin
(Pro-Treaty)
1st SF (PT) (minority) Kevin O'Higgins 3 (1922)
Cumann na nGaedheal 2nd CnG (minority) 4 (1923)
3rd Ernest Blythe 5 (Jun.1927)
4th 6 (Sep.1927)
5th
2 Éamon de Valera Éamon de Valera
(1882–1975)
TD for Clare
9 March
1932[note 9]
29 December
1937
Fianna Fáil 6th FF (minority) Seán T. O'Kelly 7 (1932)
7th 8 (1933)
8th 9 (1937)

Taoiseach

No. Portrait Name
(Birth–Death)
Constituency
Term of office Party Government
Composition
Tánaiste Dáil
(elected)
(2) Éamon de Valera Éamon de Valera
(1882–1975)
TD for Clare
29 December
1937
18 February
1948
Fianna Fáil 1st FF (minority) Seán T. O'Kelly 9 ( ···· )
2nd FF 10 (1938)
3rd FF (minority) 11 (1943)
4th FF Seán Lemass 12 (1944)
3 US visit of Taoiseach Costello in 1956 (cropped) John A. Costello
(1891–1976)
TD for Dublin South-East
18 February
1948
13 June
1951
Fine Gael 5th FGLabCnPCnTNLInd William Norton 13 (1948)
(2) Éamon de Valera Éamon de Valera
(1882–1975)
TD for Clare
13 June
1951
2 June
1954
Fianna Fáil 6th FF (minority) Seán Lemass 14 (1951)
(3) US visit of Taoiseach Costello in 1956 (cropped) John A. Costello
(1891–1976)
TD for Dublin South-East
2 June
1954
20 March
1957
Fine Gael 7th FGLabCnT William Norton 15 (1954)
(2) Éamon de Valera Éamon de Valera
(1882–1975)
TD for Clare
20 March
1957
23 June
1959
Fianna Fáil 8th FF Seán Lemass 16 (1957)
4 Séan Lemass at Schiphol Airport (cropped) Seán Lemass
(1899–1971)
TD for Dublin South-Central
23 June
1959
10 November
1966
Fianna Fáil 9th FF Seán MacEntee
10th FF (minority) 17 (1961)
11th FF Frank Aiken 18 (1965)
5 Jack Lynch 1967 (cropped) Jack Lynch
(1917–1999)
TD for Cork Borough until 1969
TD for Cork City North-West from 1969
10 November
1966
14 March
1973
Fianna Fáil 12th FF
13th FF Erskine H. Childers 19 (1969)
6 Taoiseach Liam Cosgrave-Patricks Day 1976 Liam Cosgrave
(1920–2017)
TD for Dún Laoghaire and Rathdown
14 March
1973
5 July
1977
Fine Gael 14th FGLab Brendan Corish 20 (1973)
(5) Jack Lynch 1967 (cropped) Jack Lynch
(1917–1999)
TD for Cork City
5 July
1977
11 December
1979
Fianna Fáil 15th FF George Colley 21 (1977)
7 Charles Haughey 1967 Charles Haughey
(1925–2006)
TD for Dublin Artane
11 December
1979
30 June
1981
Fianna Fáil 16th FF
8 Garret FitzGerald Lisbon 2009 crop Garret FitzGerald
(1926–2011)
TD for Dublin South-East
30 June
1981
9 March
1982
Fine Gael 17th FGLab (minority) Michael O'Leary 22 (1981)
(7) Charles Haughey 1967 Charles Haughey
(1925–2006)
TD for Dublin North-Central
9 March
1982
14 December
1982
Fianna Fáil 18th FF (minority) Ray MacSharry 23 (Feb.1982)
(8) Garret FitzGerald Lisbon 2009 crop Garret FitzGerald
(1926–2011)
TD for Dublin South-East
14 December
1982
10 March
1987
Fine Gael 19th FGLab
FG (minority) from Jan 1987
Dick Spring 24 (Nov.1982)
Peter Barry
(7) Charles Haughey 1967 Charles Haughey
(1925–2006)
TD for Dublin North-Central
10 March
1987
11 February
1992
Fianna Fáil 20th FF (minority) Brian Lenihan 25 (1987)
21st FFPD 26 (1989)
John P. Wilson
9 Albert Reynolds crop Albert Reynolds
(1932–2014)
TD for Longford–Roscommon
11 February
1992
15 December
1994
Fianna Fáil 22nd FFPD
FF (minority) from Nov 1992
23rd FFLab
FF (minority) from Nov 1994
Dick Spring 27 (1992)
Bertie Ahern
10 John Bruton 2011 John Bruton
(b. 1947)
TD for Meath
15 December
1994
26 June
1997
Fine Gael 24th FGLabDL Dick Spring
11 BertieAhernBerlin2007-bis Bertie Ahern
(b. 1951)
TD for Dublin Central
26 June
1997
7 May
2008
Fianna Fáil 25th FFPD (minority) Mary Harney 28 (1997)
26th FFPD 29 (2002)
Michael McDowell
27th FFGreenPD Brian Cowen 30 (2007)
12 Brian Cowen in Philadelphia Brian Cowen
(b. 1960)
TD for Laois–Offaly
7 May
2008
9 March
2011
Fianna Fáil 28th FFGreenPD
FFGreenInd from Nov 2009
FF (minority) from Jan 2011
Mary Coughlan
13 Enda Kenny EPP 2014 (cropped) Enda Kenny
(b. 1951)
TD for Mayo
9 March
2011
14 June
2017[25]
Fine Gael 29th FGLab Eamon Gilmore 31 (2011)
Joan Burton
30th FGInd (minority) Frances Fitzgerald 32 (2016)
14 Leo Varadkar 2016 Leo Varadkar
(b. 1979)
TD for Dublin West
14 June
2017[26]
Incumbent Fine Gael 31st FGInd (minority)
Simon Coveney

Living former officeholders

There are four living former taoisigh as of March 2019:

Taoiseach Term of office Date of birth
John Bruton 1994–1997 18 May 1947 (age 71)
Bertie Ahern 1997–2008 12 September 1951 (age 67)
Brian Cowen 2008–2011 10 January 1960 (age 59)
Enda Kenny 2011–2017 24 April 1951 (age 67)

The most recent Taoiseach to die was Liam Cosgrave (served 1973–1977) on 4 October 2017, aged 97.

See also

Notes

  1. ^ a b Before the enactment of the 1937 Constitution of Ireland, the head of government was referred to as the President of the Executive Council. This office was first held by W. T. Cosgrave from 1922–32, and then by Éamon de Valera from 1932–37.
  2. ^ a b c d Article 13.1.1° and Article 28.5.1° of the Constitution of Ireland. The latter provision reads: "The head of the Government, or Prime Minister, shall be called, and is in this Constitution referred to as, the Taoiseach." [1]
  3. ^ One example of the Dáil refusing supply occurred in January 1982, when the then Fine GaelLabour Party coalition government of Garret FitzGerald lost a vote on the budget. [2]
  4. ^ John Frederick Vaughan Campbell Cawdor (1742). Innes Cosmo, ed. The book of the thanes of Cawdor: a series of papers selected from the charter room at Cawdor. 1236–1742, Volume 1236, Issue 1742. Spalding Club. p. xiii. Retrieved 23 June 2013. As we cannot name the first Celtic chieftain who consented to change his style of Toshach and his patriarchal sway for the title and stability of King's Thane of Cawdor, so it is impossible to fix the precise time when their ancient property and offices were acquired.
  5. ^ "Tartan Details - Toshach". Scottish Register of Tartans. Archived from the original on 2 December 2013. Retrieved 27 June 2013. Toshach is an early Celtic title given to minor territorial chiefs in Scotland (note Eire Prime Minister's official title is this).
  6. ^ John Thomas Koch (2006), Celtic Culture: a Historical Encyclopedia, ABC-CLIO, p. 1062, ISBN 1851094407, An early word meaning 'leader' appears on a 5th- or 6th-century inscribed stone as both ogam Irish and British genitive TOVISACI: tywysog now means 'prince' in Welsh, the regular descriptive title used for Prince Charles, for example; while in Ireland, the corresponding Taoiseach is now the correct title, in both Irish and English, for the Prime Minister of the Irish Republic (Éire).
  7. ^ Among the most famous ministerial dismissals have been those of Charles Haughey and Neil Blaney during the Arms Crisis in 1970, Brian Lenihan in 1990 and Albert Reynolds, Pádraig Flynn and Máire Geoghegan-Quinn in 1991.
  8. ^ Cosgrave also headed the Irish Government from August 22, 1922, during the transitional period before the state became officially independent on December 6, 1922 (See Irish heads of government since 1919).
  9. ^ De Valera also headed the pre-independence revolutionary Irish Government from 1 April 1919 to 9 January 1922 (See Irish heads of government since 1919).

References

  1. ^ Oireachtas, Houses of the. "Salaries, Houses of the Oireachtas". www.oireachtas.ie. Retrieved 14 June 2017.
  2. ^ "Taoiseach: definition of Taoiseach in Oxford dictionary (British & World English). Meaning, pronunciation and origin of the word". Oxford Language Dictionaries. Oxford University Press. 2013. Retrieved 30 November 2013.
  3. ^ McDonald, Henry (2 June 2017). "Leo Varadkar, gay son of Indian immigrant, to be next Irish PM". The Guardian. Retrieved 16 July 2018.
  4. ^ "Finance and Expenditure combined as Cabinet is named". RTÉ News. 14 June 2017. Retrieved 14 June 2017.
  5. ^ "Leo Varadkar voted leader of Fine Gael". Irish Times. Retrieved 14 June 2017.
  6. ^ "The Taoiseach, Ministers and every TD are having their pay cut today". TheJournal.ie. 4 July 2013. Retrieved 18 December 2013.
  7. ^ "Taoiseach to receive €38k pay rise". RTÉ News. 25 October 2007.
  8. ^ "Sharp exchanges in Dáil over Budget". RTÉ News. 15 October 2008. Retrieved 29 January 2009.
  9. ^ "Opposition says Lenihan's salary cuts do not add up". Irish Independent. 10 December 2009. Retrieved 29 December 2009.
  10. ^ "Opulent Phoenix Park lodge is set to become 'Fortress Cowen'". Irish Independent. 18 May 2008. Retrieved 18 May 2008.
  11. ^ "Cowen questioned on use of Farmleigh". The Irish Times. 29 January 2009. Retrieved 29 January 2009.
  12. ^ a b "Youth Zone School Pack" (PDF). Department of the Taoiseach. Retrieved 23 June 2010.
  13. ^ John-Paul McCarthy (10 January 2010). "WT became the most ruthless of them all". Irish Independent. Retrieved 22 November 2016. While Taoiseach itself carried with it some initially unpleasant assonances with Caudillo, Fuhrer and Duce, all but one of the 12 men who wielded the prime ministerial sceptre have managed to keep their megalomaniacal tendencies in check.
  14. ^ Martin Quigley, Jr (1944). Great Gaels: Ireland at Peace in a World at War. p. 18. Retrieved 22 November 2016. Eamon de Valera is An Taoiseach or “boss Gael.” That title goes considerably beyond the English “prime minister” or the American “president.” It is the Gaelic equivalent of the German “Fuehrer,” the Italian “Duce” and the Spanish “Caudillo. Published in New York, 1944 (publisher not identified); Original from University of Minnesota; Digitized 6 May 2016
  15. ^ Administration - Volume 18. Institute of Public Administration (Ireland). 1970. p. 153. Retrieved 22 November 2016. ... and let alone the names of the Prime Minister (the Taoiseach, a word that is related to Duce, Fuhrer, and Caudillo) (translated from the original Irish: ... agus fiú amháin ainmeacha an Phríomh-Aire (An Taoiseach, focal go bhfuil gaol aige le Duce, Fuhrer, agus Caudillo)Original from the University of California; Digitized 6 Dec 2006
  16. ^ E. William Robertson (2004). Scotland Under Her Early Kings: A History of the Kingdom to the Close of the Thirteenth Century Part One. Kessinger Publishing. p. 32. ISBN 9781417946075. Retrieved 28 June 2013.
  17. ^ "DSL - SND1 TOISEACH". Archived from the original on 2 December 2013. Retrieved 27 June 2013.
  18. ^ "Statement by An Taoiseach on the death of Cardinal Desmond Connell". Department of the Taoiseach. 9 February 2017. Retrieved 5 March 2017. The Taoiseach has learnt with regret ...
  19. ^ Frank Mr. MacDermot of the Centre Party (Ireland) - Bunreacht na hÉireann (Dréacht)—Coiste (Ath-thógaint) - Wednesday, 26 May 1937; Dáil Éireann Debate Vol. 67 No. 9.
  20. ^ - Bunreacht na hÉireann (Dréacht)—Coiste (Ath-thógaint) - Wednesday, 26 May 1937; Dáil Éireann Debate Vol. 67 No. 9.
  21. ^ "Coughlan new Tánaiste in Cowen Cabinet". The Irish Times. 17 May 2008. Retrieved 17 May 2008.
  22. ^ "Taoiseach reveals new front bench". RTÉ News. 7 May 2008. Retrieved 17 May 2008.
  23. ^ "Cowen confirmed as Taoiseach". BreakingNews.ie. 7 May 2008. Retrieved 17 May 2008.
  24. ^ "Former Taoisigh". Department of the Taoiseach. Archived from the original on 17 July 2011. Retrieved 23 June 2010.
  25. ^ "Kenny's farewell: 'This has never been about me'". RTÉ News. 13 June 2017. Retrieved 14 June 2017.
  26. ^ Lord, Miriam (8 June 2017). "Taoiseach-in-waiting meets man waiting to be taoiseach". The Irish Times. Retrieved 10 June 2017.

Further reading

The book Chairman or Chief: The Role of the Taoiseach in Irish Government (1971) by Brian Farrell provides a good overview of the conflicting roles for the Taoiseach. Though long out of print, it may still be available in libraries or from AbeBooks. Biographies are also available of de Valera, Lemass, Lynch, Cosgrave, FitzGerald, Haughey, Reynolds and Ahern. FitzGerald wrote an autobiography, while an authorised biography was produced of de Valera. There is a chapter by Garret FitzGerald on the role of the Taoiseach in a festschrift to Brian Farrell. There is a chapter by Eoin O'Malley on the Taoiseach and cabinet in 'Governing Ireland: From cabinet government to delegated governance'(Eoin O'Malley and Muiris MacCarthaigh eds.) Dublin: IPA 2012.

Biographies

Some biographies of former Taoisigh and Presidents of the Executive Council
  • Tim Pat Coogan, Éamon de Valera
  • John Horgan, Seán Lemass
  • Brian Farrell, Seán Lemass
  • T. P. O'Mahony, Jack Lynch: A Biography
  • T. Ryle Dwyer, Nice Fellow: A Biography of Jack Lynch
  • Stephen Collins, The Cosgrave legacy
  • Garret FitzGerald, All in a Life
  • Garret FitzGerald, "Just Garret: Tales from the Political Frontline"
  • Raymond Smith, Garret: The Enigma
  • T. Ryle Dwyer, Short Fellow: A Biography of Charles Haughey
  • Martin Mansergh, Spirit of the Nation: The Collected Speeches of Haughey
  • Joe Joyce & Peter Murtagh The Boss: Charles Haughey in Government
  • Tim Ryan, Albert Reynolds: The Longford Leader
  • Albert Reynolds, My Autobiography (Reviewed here)
  • Bertie Ahern, My Autobiography (Reviewed here)

External links

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2017 in Ireland

Events during the year 2017 in Ireland.

Bertie Ahern

Bartholomew Patrick "Bertie" Ahern (born 12 September 1951) is a former Irish Fianna Fáil politician who served as Taoiseach from 1997 to 2008, Leader of Fianna Fáil from 1994 to 2008, Leader of the Opposition from 1994 to 1997, Tánaiste and Minister for Arts, Culture and the Gaeltacht from November 1994 to December 1994, Deputy Leader of Fianna Fáil from 1992 to 1994, Minister for Industry and Commerce in January 1993, Minister for Finance from 1991 to 1994, Minister for Labour from 1987 to 1991, Government Chief Whip and Minister of State at the Department of Defence from March 1982 to December 1982 and Lord Mayor of Dublin from 1986 to 1987. He served as a Teachta Dála (TD) from 1977 to 2011.

In 1994, Ahern was elected the sixth Leader of Fianna Fáil. Under Ahern's leadership, Fianna Fáil led three coalition governments. After Éamon de Valera, Bertie Ahern's term as Taoiseach is the longest. Ahern resigned as Taoiseach on 6 May 2008, in the wake of revelations made in Mahon Tribunal, and was succeeded by Minister for Finance Brian Cowen. The Mahon Tribunal in 2012, found that Ahern, while not judged corrupt, had received monies from developers and the Tribunal disbelieved his explanations of those payments. Fianna Fáil proposed to expel politicians censured by the tribunal, but Ahern resigned from the party prior to the expulsion motion being moved.

In November 2016, it was announced that a decision had been made by Fianna Fáil to give Ahern the option of rejoining the party.

Brian Cowen

Brian Bernard Cowen (born 10 January 1960) is a former Irish Fianna Fáil politician who served as Taoiseach from 2008 to 2011, Leader of Fianna Fáil from 2008 to 2011, Minister for Foreign Affairs from January 2011 to March 2011 and 2000 to 2004, Minister for Defence from February 2011 to March 2011, Tánaiste from 2007 to 2008, Deputy Leader of Fianna Fáil from 2002 to 2008, Minister for Finance from 2004 to 2008, Minister for Health and Children from 1997 to 2000, Minister for Transport, Energy and Communications from 1993 to 1994, Minister for Energy in January 1993 and Minister for Labour from 1992 to 1993. He served as a Teachta Dála (TD) for Laois–Offaly from 1984 to 2011.He became leader of Fianna Fáil upon the resignation of Bertie Ahern. On 7 May 2008, following the resignation of Ahern as Taoiseach, Cowen was nominated by Dáil Éireann to replace him and was appointed by the President later that day. His administration coincided with the Irish financial and banking crises. He has received substantial criticism for his failure to stem the tide of either crisis, ultimately culminating in his government's formal request for financial rescue from the European Union and the International Monetary Fund, widely seen in Ireland as a national humiliation. Cowen's leadership saw public support for Fianna Fáil plunge to record lows, as well as the lowest public support on record for both a sitting Irish government and a sitting Taoiseach. With approval at 8 percent, by the time the 30th Dáil was dissolved, he was the least popular incumbent politician in the history of Irish opinion polling.In January 2011, following a failed and highly controversial attempt at a cabinet reshuffle and facing growing political pressure, Cowen resigned as leader of Fianna Fáil, but stayed on as Taoiseach until the election held later that year. A month later, he announced he would retire from politics at that election.The Sunday Times described Cowen's tenure as Taoiseach as "a dismal failure." In 2011, the Irish Independent called Cowen the "worst Taoiseach in the history of the State."

Charles Haughey

Charles James Haughey (16 September 1925 – 13 June 2006) was an Irish Fianna Fáil politician who served as Taoiseach on three different occasions, 1979 to 1981, March 1982 to December 1982 and 1987 to 1992. He was also Minister for the Gaeltacht from 1987 to 1992, Leader of the Opposition from 1981 to 1982 and 1982 to 1987, Leader of Fianna Fáil from 1979 to 1992, Minister for Social Welfare and Minister for Health from 1977 to 1979, Minister for Finance from 1966 to 1970, Minister for Agriculture from 1964 to 1966, Minister for Justice from 1961 to 1964 and Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Justice from 1959 to 1961. He served as a Teachta Dála (TD) from 1957 to 1992.Haughey was first elected to Dáil Éireann as a Teachta Dála (TD) in 1957 and was re-elected in every election until 1992, representing the Dublin North-East, Dublin Artane and Dublin North-Central constituencies.

Haughey is generally regarded as the most dominant Irish politician of his generation, as well as the most controversial. Upon entering government in the early 1960s, Haughey became the symbol of a new vanguard of Irish Ministers. As Taoiseach, he is credited by some economists as starting the positive transformation of the economy in the late 1980s. However, his career was also marked by several major scandals. Haughey was implicated in the Arms Crisis of 1970, which nearly destroyed his career. His political reputation revived, his tenure as Taoiseach was then damaged by the sensational GUBU Affair in 1982; his party leadership was challenged four times, each time unsuccessfully, earning Haughey the nickname "The Great Houdini". Revelations about his role in a phone tapping scandal forced him to resign as Taoiseach and retire from politics in 1992.

After Haughey's retirement from politics, further revelations of corruption, embezzlement, tax evasion and a 27-year extra-marital affair tarnished his already divisive reputation. He died of prostate cancer in 2006, at the age of eighty.

Department of the Taoiseach

The Department of the Taoiseach (Irish: Roinn an Taoisigh) is the government department of the Taoiseach of Ireland. It is based in Government Buildings, the headquarters of the Government of Ireland, on Merrion Street in Dublin.

The Department was created in 1937, simultaneous with the new Constitution replacing the Irish Free State's 1922 Constitution. The Department replaced the Department of the President of the Executive Council, just as the office of Taoiseach replaced the office of President of the Executive Council.

The civil servant who heads the Department of the Taoiseach is known as the Secretary General of the Department and also serves as the Cabinet Secretary.

Dáil Éireann

Dáil Éireann ( (listen) lit. Assembly of Ireland) is the lower house, and principal chamber, of the Oireachtas (Irish legislature), which also includes the President of Ireland and Seanad Éireann (the upper house). It currently consists of 158 members, known as Teachta Dála (plural Teachtaí Dála, commonly abbreviated as 'TDs'). TDs represent 40 constituencies, and are directly elected at least once every five years under the system of proportional representation by means of the single transferable vote (STV). Its powers are similar to those of lower houses under many other bicameral parliamentary systems and it is by far the dominant branch of the Oireachtas. Subject to the limits imposed by the Constitution of Ireland, it has power to pass any law it wishes, and to nominate and remove the Taoiseach (head of government). Since 1922, it has met in Leinster House in Dublin.

Enda Kenny

Enda Kenny (born 24 April 1951) is an Irish Fine Gael politician who served as the 13th Taoiseach from 2011 to 2017, Leader of Fine Gael from 2002 to 2017, Minister for Defence from May 2014 to July 2014 and 2016 to 2017, Leader of the Opposition from 2002 to 2011, Minister for Tourism and Trade from 1994 to 1997 and Minister of State for Youth Affairs from 1986 to 1987. He has been a Teachta Dála (TD) since 1975, currently for the Mayo constituency.He is the longest-serving TD currently in Dáil Éireann, which makes him the incumbent Father of the Dáil.

Kenny led Fine Gael to a historic victory at the 2011 general election, with his party becoming the largest in the state for the first time, forming a coalition government with the Labour Party on 9 March 2011. He subsequently became the first Fine Gael Taoiseach to be elected to a second consecutive term on 6 May 2016, after two months of negotiations, following the 2016 election, forming a Fine Gael-led minority government. He was the first Taoiseach from Fine Gael since John Bruton (1994–1997), and the first Leader of Fine Gael to win a general election since Garret FitzGerald in 1982. He became the longest-serving Fine Gael Taoiseach in April 2017.Kenny stepped down as Leader of Fine Gael on 2 June 2017, and announced he would resign as Taoiseach once a new leader was chosen in early June. In the following leadership election, the then Minister for Social Protection Leo Varadkar, was elected to succeed Kenny as Leader of Fine Gael. He tendered his resignation as Taoiseach on 13 June 2017, and was succeeded by Varadkar the following day. On 5 November 2017, Kenny announced that he would not contest the next general election.

Fine Gael

Fine Gael ( FEE-nə GAYL; English: Family or Tribe of the Irish) is a liberal-conservative political party in Ireland. Fine Gael is currently the governing and largest party in Ireland in terms of members of the Oireachtas and Irish members of European Parliament. The party has a membership of 35,000, and is the senior partner governing in a minority coalition with several independent politicians, with party leader Leo Varadkar serving as Taoiseach. Varadkar succeeded Enda Kenny as party leader on 2 June 2017 and as Taoiseach on 14 June; Kenny had been leader since 2002, and Taoiseach since 2011.Fine Gael was founded on 8 September 1933 following the merger of its parent party Cumann na nGaedheal, the National Centre Party and the National Guard (popularly known as the "Blueshirts", a name still used colloquially to refer to the party). Its origins lie in the struggle for Irish independence and the pro-Treaty side in the Irish Civil War and Michael Collins, in particular, is often identified as the founder of the movement.Fine Gael is generally considered to be more of a proponent of market liberalism than its traditional rival, Fianna Fáil. However, apart from brief minority governments (as in 1987), Fine Gael has rarely governed Ireland without a coalition that also included the Labour Party, a social-democratic, centre-left party. Fine Gael describes itself as a "party of the progressive centre" which it defines as acting "in a way that is right for Ireland, regardless of dogma or ideology". It lists its core values as "equality of opportunity, free enterprise and reward, security, integrity and hope." It is strongly in favour of the European Union and opposed to physical force Irish republicanism. The party's youth wing, Young Fine Gael, was formed in 1977, and has approximately four thousand members. Fine Gael is a founding member of the European People's Party.

Garret FitzGerald

Garret Desmond FitzGerald (9 February 1926 – 19 May 2011) was an Irish economist, barrister, lecturer, public intellectual and Fine Gael politician who served as Taoiseach from 1981 to 1982 and 1982 to 1987, Leader of Fine Gael from 1977 to 1987, Leader of the Opposition from 1977 to 1981 and March 1982 to December 1982 and Minister for Foreign Affairs from 1973 to 1977. He served as a Teachta Dála (TD) from 1969 to 1992. He was a Senator for the Industrial and Commercial Panel from 1965 to 1969.He was the son of Desmond FitzGerald, the first Minister for External Affairs of the Irish Free State. At the time of his death, FitzGerald was the President of the Institute of International and European Affairs, had a column in The Irish Times and made occasional appearances on television programmes.

Government of Ireland

The Government of Ireland (Irish: Rialtas na hÉireann) is the cabinet that exercises executive authority in Ireland.

The Constitution of Ireland vests executive authority in a government which is headed by the Taoiseach, the head of government. The government is composed of government ministers, all of whom must be members of the Irish parliament. The Taoiseach must be nominated and approved by the Dáil Éireann, the lower house of the Oireachtas, the Irish legislature. Following the nomination of the Dáil, the President of Ireland appoints the Taoiseach to his role. The President also appoints members of the government, including the Tánaiste, the deputy head of government, on nomination of the Taoiseach. The government is dependent upon the Oireachtas to make primary legislation and as such, the government needs to command a majority in the Dáil in order to ensure support and confidence for budgets and government bills to pass. The Government is also known as the cabinet.

The current Taoiseach is Leo Varadkar who took office on 14 June 2017. He is the leader of Fine Gael, the party with the highest number of seats in the Dáil. Varadkar's government is a minority coalition, made up of Fine Gael and independent members. His Tánaiste is Simon Coveney who took office on 30 November 2017.

Government of the 31st Dáil

The Government of the 31st Dáil is the previous Government of Ireland, formed after the 2011 general election to Dáil Éireann on 25 February 2011. Fine Gael entered into discussions with the Labour Party which culminated in a joint programme for government. The 31st Dáil first met on 9 March 2011 when it nominated Seán Barrett to be the Ceann Comhairle. Following this, the house nominated Enda Kenny, the leader of Fine Gael, to be the 13th Taoiseach. Kenny then went to the Áras an Uachtaráin where President Mary McAleese appointed him as Taoiseach. On the nomination of the Taoiseach, and following the Dáil's approval the 29th Government of Ireland was appointed by the President.

Government of the 32nd Dáil

The 32nd Dáil was elected at the 2016 general election. When it met on 10 March 2016, the Dáil failed to elect a Taoiseach, resulting in the formal resignation of Enda Kenny who continued in a caretaker capacity pending the appointment of the 30th Government of Ireland. After two further failed attempts to elect a Taoiseach Enda Kenny was eventually elected at the fourth time of asking on the Friday, 6 May 2016 and his cabinet was announced later that day. This was the first occasion on which an outgoing Fine Gael Taoiseach was re-elected.

Jack Lynch

John Mary Lynch (15 August 1917 – 20 October 1999), known as Jack Lynch, was an Irish Fianna Fáil politician who was best known for his service as Taoiseach from 1966 to 1973 and 1977 to 1979, and Leader of Fianna Fáil from 1966 to 1979. He was also Leader of the Opposition from 1973 to 1977, Minister for Finance from 1965 to 1966, Minister for Industry and Commerce from 1959 to 1965, Minister for Education 1957 to 1959, Minister for Gaeltacht Affairs from March 1957 to June 1957, Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Lands and Parliamentary Secretary to the Taoiseach from 1951 to 1954. He served as a Teachta Dála (TD) from 1948 to 1981.He was the third leader of Fianna Fáil from 1966 until 1979, succeeding the hugely influential Seán Lemass. Lynch was the last Fianna Fáil leader to secure (in 1977) an overall majority in the Dáil. Historian and journalist T. Ryle Dwyer has called him "the most popular Irish politician since Daniel O'Connell."Before his political career Lynch had a successful sporting career as a dual player of Gaelic games. He played hurling with his local club Glen Rovers and with the Cork senior inter-county team from 1936 until 1950. Lynch also played Gaelic football with his local club St Nicholas' and with the Cork senior inter-county team from 1936 until 1946. He is widely regarded as one of the greatest dual players of all-time.In a senior inter-county hurling career that lasted for fourteen years he won five All-Ireland titles, seven Munster titles, three National Hurling League titles and seven Railway Cup titles. In a senior inter-county football career that lasted for ten years Lynch won one All-Ireland title, two Munster titles and one Railway Cup title. Lynch was later named at midfield on the Hurling Team of the Century and the Hurling Team of the Millennium.

Leo Varadkar

Leo Eric Varadkar ( və-RAD-kər; born 18 January 1979) is an Irish politician who has served as Taoiseach, Minister for Defence, and Leader of Fine Gael since June 2017. He has been a Teachta Dála (TD) for the Dublin West constituency since 2007. He previously served as Minister for Social Protection from 2016 to 2017, Minister for Health from 2014 to 2016 and Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport from 2011 to 2014.He was 38 years old on his election as Taoiseach, becoming the youngest person to hold the office. During the 2015 same-sex marriage referendum, he came out as gay – the first Irish government Minister to do so. He is Ireland's first, and the world's fourth, openly gay head of government in modern times. He is also the first Irish government leader of Indian heritage.

Varadkar was born in Dublin and studied medicine at Trinity College Dublin. He spent several years as a non-consultant hospital doctor before qualifying as a general practitioner in 2010. In 2004, he was co-opted onto Fingal County Council and served as deputy mayor, before his election to Dáil Éireann in 2007.

Liam Cosgrave

Liam Cosgrave (13 April 1920 – 4 October 2017) was an Irish Fine Gael politician who served as Taoiseach from 1973 to 1977, Leader of Fine Gael from 1965 to 1977, Leader of the Opposition from 1965 to 1973, Minister for External Affairs from 1954 to 1957, Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Industry and Commerce and Government Chief Whip from 1948 to 1951. He served as a Teachta Dála (TD) from 1943 to 1981.Born in Castleknock, Dublin, Cosgrave was the son of W. T. Cosgrave, the first President of the Executive Council in the newly formed Irish Free State. After qualifying as a barrister he decided to embark on a political career. He was elected to Dáil Éireann at the 1943 general election and sat in opposition alongside his father. The formation of the first inter-party government in 1948 saw Cosgrave become a Parliamentary Secretary to Taoiseach John A. Costello. He formally became a cabinet member in 1954 when he was appointed Minister for External Affairs. The highlight of his three-year tenure was Ireland's successful entry into the United Nations. In 1965 Cosgrave was the unanimous choice of his colleagues to succeed James Dillon as leader of Fine Gael. He lost the 1969 general election to the incumbent Jack Lynch, but won the 1973 general election and became Taoiseach in a Fine Gael-Labour Party government.

He was the longest-lived Taoiseach of Ireland, dying at the age of 97 years, 174 days, on 4 October 2017.

Minister of State at the Department of the Taoiseach

The Minister of State at the Department of the Taoiseach, officially styled as the Minister of State at the Department of the Taoiseach (with special responsibility as Government Chief Whip), is the Chief Whip of the Government of Ireland and is the most senior Minister of State in the Government of Ireland.

The role of the Whip is primarily that of the disciplinarian for all government parties, to ensure that all deputies, including ministers, attend for Dáil Business and follow the government line on all issues. The current Government Chief Whip is Seán Kyne, TD.

Nominated members of Seanad Éireann

The composition of Seanad Éireann, one of the two houses of the Oireachtas (parliament) of Ireland, is set out in Article 18 of the Constitution of Ireland. This provides for 60 Senators, of whom 11 are to be nominated by the Taoiseach (prime minister). Additionally six senators are elected by university graduates, and 43 are elected by Oireachtas members and city and county councillors across 5 Vocational panels.

These nominations allow the government to reach a majority in the Seanad, for smaller parties in coalition or supporting the government to achieve more significant Seanad representation, and for the appointment of Independent members to represent particular interests. A number of representatives from Northern Ireland have been selected over the years as Independent senators, and in 2016, Enda Kenny nominated Billy Lawless, a resident of Chicago, to represent the interest of the Irish living abroad.

As the outgoing Seanad continues in session after the general election, it is usual for the outgoing Taoiseach to appoint Senators to fill the places of those who were elected to Dáil Éireann for the short period until the conclusion of the Seanad election.

Tánaiste

The Tánaiste (Irish pronunciation: [ˈt̪ˠaːn̪ˠəʃtʲə] (listen)) is the deputy head of the government of Ireland and thus holder of its second-most senior office. The Tánaiste is appointed by the President of Ireland on the advice of the Taoiseach. The current office holder is Simon Coveney, TD, who was appointed on 30 November 2017.

Éamon de Valera

Éamon de Valera (; Irish pronunciation: [ˈeːmˠən̻ˠ dʲɛ ˈvˠalʲəɾʲə]; first registered as George de Valero; changed some time before 1901 to Edward de Valera; 14 October 1882 – 29 August 1975) was a prominent statesman and political leader in 20th-century Ireland. His political career spanned over half a century, from 1917 to 1973; he served several terms as head of government and head of state. He also led the introduction of the Constitution of Ireland.Prior to de Valera's political career, he was a Commandant at Boland's Mill during the 1916 Easter Rising, an Irish revolution that would eventually contribute to Irish independence. He was arrested, sentenced to death but released for a variety of reasons, including the public response to the British execution of Rising leaders. He returned to Ireland after being jailed in England and became one of the leading political figures of the War of Independence. After the signing of the Anglo-Irish Treaty, de Valera served as the political leader of Anti-Treaty Sinn Fein until 1926, when he, along with many supporters, left the party to set up Fianna Fáil, a new political party which abandoned the policy of abstentionism from Dáil Éireann.

From there, de Valera would go on to be at the forefront of Irish politics until the turn of the 1960s. He took over as President of the Executive Council from W. T. Cosgrave and later Taoiseach, with the passing of Bunreacht Na hEireann (Irish constitution) in 1937. He would serve as Taoiseach on 3 occasions; from 1937 to 1948, from 1951 to 1954 and finally from 1957 to 1959. He remains the longest serving Taoiseach by total days served in the post. He resigned in 1959 upon his election as President of Ireland. By then, he had been Leader of Fianna Fáil for 33 years, and he, along with older founding members, began to take a less prominent role relative to newer ministers such as Jack Lynch, Charles Haughey and Neil Blaney. He would serve as President from 1959 to 1973, two full terms in office.

De Valera's political beliefs evolved from militant Irish republicanism to strong social, cultural and economic conservatism. He has been characterised by a stern, unbending, devious demeanor. His roles in the Civil War have also portrayed him as a divisive figure in Irish history. Biographer Tim Pat Coogan sees his time in power as being characterised by economic and cultural stagnation, while Diarmaid Ferriter argues that the stereotype of de Valera as an austere, cold and even backward figure was largely manufactured in the 1960s and is misguided.

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