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Leader of the Opposition (Ireland)

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Title: Leader of the Opposition (Ireland)  
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Language: English
Subject: Taoiseach, Garret FitzGerald, John Bruton, Éamon de Valera, Richard Mulcahy
Collection: Dáil Éireann, Lists of Political Office-Holders in the Republic of Ireland, Opposition Leaders, Politics of the Republic of Ireland
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Leader of the Opposition (Ireland)

Leader of the Opposition
Ceannaire an Fhreasúra
Incumbent
Micheál Martin

since 9 March 2011
Term length While leader of the largest political party not in government
Inaugural holder Thomas Johnson
Formation 6 December 1922

The Leader of the Opposition (Irish: Ceannaire an Fhreasúra) in Ireland is the politician who, de facto, leads the Parliamentary Opposition in the lower house of the Irish Parliament, Dáil Éireann. The current incumbent is Micheál Martin TD of the Fianna Fáil party.

By convention, the Leader of the Opposition is the leader of the largest party not in government. Historically the two largest parties have nearly always been Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael, and so the position of Leader of the Opposition has alternated between them. However, immediately following Irish secession from the UK in 1922, the leader of the Labour Party acted as Leader of the Opposition as Sinn Féin, and later Fianna Fáil, refused to take their seats in Dáil Éireann. After the 2011 general election Fine Gael became the largest party in Dáil Éireann and the Labour Party for the first time became the second largest. However, since Labour and Fine Gael entered a coalition government, the third largest party which is Fianna Fáil, leads the opposition in the 31st Dáil.

The Leader of the Opposition does not have an official role, as most of the post's functions are honorific, ceremonial and nominal. He is sometimes seen as the alternative Taoiseach to the present incumbent, and heads an alternative government known as the Front Bench, however, all the other non-government parties also have their own front benches.

Since March 2011 a Fine Gael-Labour Party coalition occupies the government benches of the Dáil chamber. The Opposition side of the house consists of Fianna Fáil (20 seats), Sinn Féin (14 seats), and Independent TDs and others.

Leaders of the Opposition

  • The bold print indicates politicians who went on to become Taoiseach.
  • The italic print indicates politicians who went on to become Tánaiste.

Leader of the Opposition

No. Name
(Birth–Death)
Constituency
Portrait Term of office Election Dáil Éireann Party Second Major Opposition Leader
1. Thomas Johnson
(1872–1963)
TD for Dublin County
6 December 1922 11 August 1927 1922 3rd Labour Party Denis Gorey
(Farmers' Party)
1923 4th Denis Gorey
(Farmers' Party)
Jun.1927 5th Michael Heffernan
(Farmers' Party)
2. Éamon de Valera
(1882–1975)
TD for Clare
11 August 1927 9 March 1932 Sep.1927 6th Fianna Fáil Thomas J. O'Connell
(Labour Party)
3. W. T. Cosgrave
(1880–1965)
TD for Cork Borough
9 March 1932 January 1944 1932 7th Cumann na nGaedheal William Norton
(Labour Party)
1933 8th Frank MacDermot
(National Centre Party)
1937 9th Fine Gael William Norton
(Labour Party)
1938 10th
1943 11th
4. Thomas F. O'Higgins
(1890–1953)
TD for Leix–Offaly
January 1944 9 June 1944
5. Richard Mulcahy
(1886–1971)
TD for Tipperary
9 June 1944 18 February 1948 1944 12th Joseph Blowick
(Clann na Talmhan)
(2) Éamon de Valera
(1882–1975)
TD for Clare
18 February 1948 13 June 1951 1948 13th Fianna Fáil None
6. John A. Costello
(1891–1976)
TD for Dublin South–East
13 June 1951 2 June 1954 1951 14th Fine Gael William Norton
(Labour Party)
(2) Éamon de Valera
(1882–1975)
TD for Clare
2 June 1954 20 March 1957 1954 15th Fianna Fáil Seán MacBride
(Clann na Poblachta)
(6) John A. Costello
(1891–1976)
TD for Dublin South–East
20 March 1957 21 October 1959 1957 16th Fine Gael William Norton
(Labour Party)
7. James Dillon
(1902–1986)
TD for Monaghan
21 October 1959 21 April 1965
1961 17th Brendan Corish
(Labour Party)
8. Liam Cosgrave
(born 1920)
TD for Dún Laoghaire and Rathdown
21 April 1965 14 March 1973 1965 18th
1969 19th
9. Jack Lynch
(1917–1999)
TD for Cork City North–West
14 March 1973 5 July 1977 1973 20th Fianna Fáil None
10. Garret FitzGerald
(1926–2011)
TD for Dublin South–East
5 July 1977 30 June 1981 1977 21st Fine Gael Frank Cluskey
(Labour Party)
11. Charles Haughey
(1925–2006)
TD for Dublin North–Central
30 June 1981 9 March 1982 1981 22nd Fianna Fáil Joe Sherlock
(Workers' Party)
(10) Garret FitzGerald
(1926–2011)
TD for Dublin South–East
9 March 1982 14 December 1982 Feb.1982 23rd Fine Gael Michael O'Leary
(Labour Party)
(11) Charles Haughey
(1925–2006)
TD for Dublin North–Central
14 December 1982 10 March 1987 Nov.1982 24th Fianna Fáil Tomás Mac Giolla
(Workers' Party)
12. Alan Dukes
(born 1945)
TD for Kildare
10 March 1987 20 November 1990 1987 25th Fine Gael Desmond O'Malley
(Progressive Democrats)
1989 26th Dick Spring
(Labour Party)
13. John Bruton
(born 1947)
TD for Meath
20 November 1990 15 December 1994
1992 27th Desmond O'Malley (1992–93)
Mary Harney (1993–94)
(Progressive Democrats)
14. Bertie Ahern
(born 1951)
TD for Dublin Central
15 December 1994 26 June 1997 Fianna Fáil Mary Harney
(Progressive Democrats)
(13) John Bruton
(born 1947)
TD for Meath
26 June 1997 9 February 2001 1997 28th Fine Gael Dick Spring (1997)
Ruairi Quinn (1997–2001)
(Labour Party)
15. Michael Noonan
(born 1943)
TD for Limerick East
9 February 2001 6 June 2002 Ruairi Quinn
(Labour Party)
16. Enda Kenny
(born 1951)
TD for Mayo
6 June 2002 9 March 2011 2002 29th Pat Rabbitte
(Labour Party)
2007 30th Eamon Gilmore
(Labour Party)
17. Micheál Martin
(born 1960)
TD for Cork South–Central
9 March 2011 Incumbent 2011 31st Fianna Fáil Gerry Adams
(Sinn Féin)

See also

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