Éamon de Valera
Éamon de Valera was a prominent statesman and political leader in 20th-century Ireland. His political career spanned over half a century, from 1917 to 1973, he 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 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 Taoiseach, with the passing of Bunreacht Na hEireann in 1937, he would serve as Taoiseach on 3 occasions. 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 he had been Leader of Fianna Fáil for 33 years, 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 two full terms in office. De Valera's political beliefs evolved from militant Irish republicanism to strong social and economic conservatism, he has been characterised by a stern, devious demeanor. His roles in the Civil War have 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 and backward figure was manufactured in the 1960s and is misguided.
Éamon de Valera was born on 14 October 1882 in New York City, the son of Catherine Coll, from Bruree, County Limerick, Juan Vivion de Valera, described on the birth certificate as a Spanish artist born in the Basque Country, Spain. He was born at the Nursery and Child's Hospital, Lexington Avenue, a home for destitute orphans and abandoned children, his parents were married on 18 September 1881 at St Patrick's Church in Jersey City, New Jersey, but archivists have not located any marriage certificate or any birth, baptismal, or death certificate information for anyone called Juan Vivion de Valera. On de Valera's original birth certificate, his name is given as George de Valero and his father is listed as Vivion de Valero. Although he was known as Edward de Valera before 1901, a fresh birth certificate was issued in 1910, in which his first name was changed to Edward and his father's surname given as "de Valera"; as a child, he was known as "Eddie" or "Eddy". According to Coll, Juan Vivion died in her child in poor circumstances.
Éamon was taken to Ireland by his uncle Ned at the age of two. When his mother married a new husband in the mid-1880s, he was not brought back to live with her, but was reared instead by his grandmother, Elizabeth Coll, her son Patrick and her daughter Hannie, in County Limerick, he was educated locally at Bruree National School, County Limerick and C. B. S. Charleville, County Cork. Aged sixteen, he won a scholarship, he was not successful in enrolling at two colleges in Limerick, but was accepted at Blackrock College, Dublin, at the instigation of his local curate. He played rugby at Blackrock and Rockwell College for the Munster rugby team around 1905, he remained a lifelong devotee of rugby, attending international matches towards the end of his life when he was nearly blind. Always a diligent student, at the end of his first year in Blackrock College he was student of the year, he won further scholarships and exhibitions and in 1903 was appointed teacher of mathematics at Rockwell College, County Tipperary.
It was here that de Valera was first given the nickname "Dev" by a teaching colleague, Tom O'Donnell. In 1904, he graduated in mathematics from the Royal University of Ireland, he studied for a year at Trinity College Dublin but, owing to the necessity of earning a living, did not proceed further and returned to teaching, this time at Belvedere College. In 1906, he secured a post as teacher of mathematics at Carysfort Teachers' Training College for women in Blackrock, Dublin, his applications for professorships in colleges of the National University of Ireland were unsuccessful, but he obtained a part-time appointment at Maynooth and taught mathematics at various Dublin schools, including Castleknock College and Belvedere College. There were occasions when de Valera contemplated the religious life like his half-brother, Fr. Thomas Wheelwright, but he did not pursue this vocation; as late as 1906, when he was 24 years old, he approached the President of Clonliffe Seminary in Dublin for advice on his vocation.
De Valera was throughout his life portrayed as a religious man, who in death asked to be buried in a religious habit. His bi
The Moriarty Tribunal called the Tribunal of Inquiry into certain Payments to Politicians and Related Matters, was an Irish Tribunal of Inquiry established in 1997 into the financial affairs of politicians Charles Haughey and Michael Lowry. It has revealed significant tax evasion by other politicians and leading businessmen; as a consequence, the tax authorities have recovered millions of euro in settlements and penalties from many individuals. The final report of the tribunal was expected to be published in mid-January 2010, but was delayed and was published 22 March 2011; as a result of change of management in Dunnes Stores, a leading retail group in Ireland, it was revealed in the press that Ben Dunne had made substantial secret payments to the former Taoiseach Charles Haughey and Minister Michael Lowry. In response the Bruton Government established The McCracken Inquiry in 1997 to investigate; the inquiry reported in late 1997 and confirmed the facts and revealed monies in secret Ansbacher accounts owned by Haughey for which it could not determine the source.
In response to the McCracken Report, the new Ahern Government issued terms of reference for a new follow-up tribunal on 26 September 1997. The sole member of the Tribunal is the Honourable Mr Justice Michael Moriarty, leading to the name Moriarty Tribunal; the terms were inquiry into: whether substantial payments which might not have been ethical to receive were made to Charles Haughey and Michael Lowry between 1 January 1979 and 31 December 1996, the source of those payments, whether payments were made to people holding public office, whether Mr Haughey made any decisions benefiting a person making such a payment, the source of money in various bank accounts in Ireland, the Channel Islands, the Isle of Man, whether the Republic's tax authorities were properly and timely informed of the existence of various payments and gifts to Messrs. Haughey and Lowry; the preliminary report into the Haughey payments was published on 19 December 2006. The final reports were published in 2011, The Tribunal sat for the first time on 31 October 1997 and heard its first witness on 28 January 1999.
By September 2004, the Tribunal had sat on 286 days but sittings were suspended pending a High Court hearing in which mobile phone entrepreneur Denis O'Brien tried unsuccessfully to prevent the tribunal from investigating Michael Lowry's involvement in his purchase of Doncaster Rovers F. C.. The tribunal ended up lasting much longer than anticipated and cost the state millions in direct costs and legal assistance to witnesses, something, criticised by the people whom the tribunal investigated. In March 2010, it was estimated the tribunal had cost the state €39 million, with final costs expected to exceed €100 million. Dunne payments to Haughey Use of accounts in Ansbacher by Haughey Management of Haughey's financial affairs by Des Treanor Sale of Glen Ding Woods to CRH plc Management of donations for a liver transplant for Brian Lenihan Confirmation of facts regarding payments by Dunne to Haughey and Lowry Confirmation of use of the Ansbacher accounts by Haughey Mr. Haughey had obstructed the tribunal Tax avoidance findings Mr. Haughey stole a "sizeable proportion" from the Brian Lenihan medical fund and took steps to conceal his actions Claims that Mr. Haughey knew little about his own personal finances were rejected Charles Haughey accepted cash in return for favours throughout his political career.
Investigations of Mr Haughey and Mr Lowry for tax evasion by the Revenue Commissioners. Settlements by both Advance sale and leaseback of his home, Abbeville, by Mr Haughey Revelations of use of the Ansbacher accounts by other businessmen and politicians for tax avoidance. An interim report on the lead to an investigation by the Department of Trade and Enterprise which named the holders, led to Denis Foley TD leaving Fianna Fáil; the Caymen island scandal, investigated by the Moriarty tribunal involved Guinness and Mahon bank and has not yielded a single prosecution, as of March 2013, because of a lack of "original documentation. However, the Revenue Commissioner documents state that as of the end of 2013 a "total yield" of €112.69m has been obtained from 141 Ansbacher account cases. This is made up of €50.1m in tax paid and €62.59m in penalties". Related press investigations on corruption, such as that on Beverley Flynn TD Related investigations by the Dáil Public Accounts committee on the use of foreign accounts for tax evasion, leading to settlements by the banks, thousands of individuals.
The circumstances surrounding the awarding of the second GSM mobile phone licence to the Esat Digifone consortium in 1996 by the Rainbow Coalition government was the focus of the work of the tribunal from 2007. The tribunal investigated whether money changed hands prior to the awarding of the licence to Esat Digifone by former Minister for Transport and Communications Michael Lowry TD. Denis O'Brien claimed preliminary findings by the tribunal state that the Esat consortium was "illegally" issued with the state's second mobile-phone licence because he had a "corrupt" relationship with Michael Lowry. A number of failed bidders are suing the state over the handling of the competition process. In 1995, Esat Digifone was a consortium made up of Denis O'Brien's Communicorp, Telenor AB and the remaining 20% held by institutional shareholders. Esat Digifone won the 1995 competition process and entered into exclusive negotiations with the Department of Transport and Communications, it transpired that during the contracting period a change in the shareholding in Esat Digifone had occurred with financier Dermot Desmond's IIU No
Leader of Fianna Fáil
The Leader of Fianna Fáil is the most senior politician within the Fianna Fáil political party in Ireland. Since 26 January 2011, the office has been held by Micheál Martin, following the resignation of Taoiseach Brian Cowen as leader of the party; the post of Leader of Fianna Fáil was created in 1926 when Éamon de Valera founded the party. De Valera had been leader of Sinn Féin and took the Anti-Treaty side during the Civil War; the new party became a home for dissatisfied Sinn Féin TDs who had become disillusioned with the party's abstentionist policy from Dáil Éireann and wanted to republicanise the Irish Free State from within. Like other Irish political parties, most notably Fine Gael, the Leader of Fianna Fáil has the power to dismiss or appoint their Deputy and to dismiss or appoint parliamentary party members to front bench positions; when Fianna Fáil is in opposition the leader acts as the Leader of the Opposition, chairs the opposition front bench. Concordantly, when the party is in government, the leader would become Taoiseach, as well as appointing the cabinet.
Seven of the eight leaders of Fianna Fáil have served as head of government for at least one term of office. Éamon de Valera became the first, when he was elected President of the Executive Council in 1932. He became Taoiseach with the adoption of the current Constitution in 1937, he remained as leader of Fianna Fáil until 1959, when he retired after serving twenty-one years as head of government and after leading the party to eight general election triumphs. Seán Lemass was the unanimous choice to succeed de Valera as leader of Fianna Fáil and Taoiseach that year, he served seven years in both roles before handing over to Jack Lynch in 1966, following the first leadership election in the history of the party. Lynch served as party leader for thirteen years until 1979, his resignation sparked another leadership election, which saw Charles Haughey emerge as Taoiseach and leader of a divided party. His thirteen-year period in charge saw many heaves against his leadership from within the party, with the final challenge hastening his resignation in 1992.
That year, three candidates expressed an interest in seeking the leadership. After just over two years in office, Reynolds was forced to resign in 1994, his successor was Bertie Ahern who, after being the unopposed candidate for the position of leader, was forced into opposition. Ahern went on to become the most popular leader of Fianna Fáil in the modern era, guiding the party to three successive election triumphs and serving eleven consecutive years as Taoiseach, his resignation in 2008 saw Brian Cowen take on the dual roles of Taoiseach and party leader, following an unopposed election. Cowen's tenure was characterised by a downturn in the economy, he was forced to resign as party leader in 2011 while remaining as Taoiseach. Four candidates put their names forward in the subsequent leadership election, with former Foreign Minister Micheál Martin becoming the eighth leader of the party; the Deputy leader of Fianna Fáil is a senior politician within Fianna Fáil. Like other political party leaders, the leader of Fianna Fáil has the power to appoint of dismiss their deputy.
The position is not an elected one and is honorific. The office of Tánaiste has been held by senior politicians in the main governing party. Previous Fianna Fáil Deputy leaders, including Brian Cowen and Mary Coughlan, held this post from 2007 to 2011. However, the Deputy leader is a party official and there is no constitutional link between the two roles. Fianna Fáil did not have a Deputy Leader from the reshuffle in 2012 until the reshuffle in 2018. History of Fianna Fáil Leader of Fine Gael Leader of the Labour Party Leader of Sinn Féin
"Celtic Tiger" is a term referring to the economy of the Republic of Ireland from the mid-1990s to the late-2000s, a period of rapid real economic growth fuelled by foreign direct investment. The boom was dampened by a subsequent property bubble. At the start of the 1990s, Ireland was a poor country by West European standards, with high poverty, unemployment and low growth; the Irish economy expanded at an average rate of 9.4% between 1995 and 2000 and continued to grow at an average rate of 5.9% during the following decade until 2008, when it fell into recession. Ireland's rapid growth has been described as a rare example of a Western country matching the growth of East Asian nations, i.e. the'Four Asian Tigers'. The economy underwent a dramatic reversal from 2008, hit hard by the European economic crisis, with GDP contracting by 14% and unemployment levels rising to 14% by 2011; the economic and financial crisis lasted until 2014. The colloquial term "Celtic Tiger" has been used to refer to the country itself, to the years associated with the boom.
The first recorded use of the phrase is in a 1994 Morgan Stanley report by Kevin Gardiner. The term refers to Ireland's similarity to the East Asian Tigers: Hong Kong, South Korea, Taiwan during their periods of rapid growth in the early 1960s and late 1990s. An Tíogar Ceilteach, the Irish language version of the term, appears in the Foras na Gaeilge terminology database and has been used in government and administrative contexts since at least 2005; the Celtic Tiger period has been called "The Boom" or "Ireland's Economic Miracle". During that time, the country experienced a period of economic growth that transformed it from one of Western Europe's poorer countries into one of its wealthiest; the causes of Ireland's growth are the subject of some debate, but credit has been given to state-driven economic development. By mid-2007, in the wake of the growing global financial crisis, the Celtic Tiger had all but died; some critics, such as David McWilliams, warning about impending collapse for some time, concluded: "The case is clear: an economically challenged government, perniciously influenced by the interests of the housing lobby, blew it.
The entire Irish episode will be studied internationally in years to come as an example of how not to do things."Historian Richard Aldous stated the Celtic Tiger has now gone the "way of the dodo". In early 2008, many commentators thought a soft landing was but by January 2009, it seemed possible the country could experience a depression. In early January 2009, The Irish Times, in an editorial, declared: "We have gone from the Celtic Tiger to an era of financial fear with the suddenness of a Titanic-style shipwreck, thrown from comfort luxury, into a cold sea of uncertainty." In February 2010, a report by Davy Research concluded that Ireland had "largely wasted” its years of high income during the boom, with private enterprise investing its wealth "in the wrong places". It compared Ireland's growth to other small eurozone countries such as Finland and Belgium – noting that the physical wealth of those countries exceeds that of Ireland because of their "vastly superior" transport infrastructure, telecommunications network, public services.
From 1995 to 2000, GDP growth rate ranged between 7.8 and 11.5%. During that period, the Irish GDP per capita rose to equal eventually surpass, that of all but one state in Western Europe. Although GDP does not represent the standard of living, the GNP remained lower than the GDP, in 2007, the GNP achieved the same level as of some other Western European countries'. Many economists credit Ireland's growth to a low corporate taxation rate. Since 1956, successive Irish governments have pursued low-taxation policies. Since joining the EU in 1973, Ireland has received over €17 billion in EU Structural and Cohesion Funds; these are made up of the European Regional Development Fund and the European Social Fund and were used to increase investment in the education system and to build physical infrastructure. These transfer payments from members of the European Union, such as Germany and France, were as high as 4% of Ireland's gross national product. Ireland is unique among cohesion countries, having allocated up to 35% of its Structural Funds to human resource investments, compared with an average of around 25% for other cohesion fund recipients.
The Irish economy's increased productive capacity is sometimes attributed to these investments, which made Ireland more attractive to high-tech businesses, though the libertarian Cato Institute has suggested that the EU transfer payments were economically inefficient and may have slowed growth. The conservative Heritage Foundation attributed to transfer payments no significant role in causing growth. Ireland's membership in the EU since 1973 helped the country gain access to Europe's large markets. Ireland's trade had been predominantly with the United Kingdom. In the 1990s, the provision of subsidies and investment capital by Irish state organisations encouraged high-profile companies, such as Dell and Microsoft, to
Francis Thomas Aiken was an Irish politician who served as Tánaiste from 1965–1969, Minister for External Affairs from 1957 to 1969 and 1951 to 1954, Minister for Finance from 1945 to 1948, Minister for the Co-ordination of Defensive Measures 1939 to 1945, Minister for Defence from 1932 to 1939 and Minister for Lands and Fisheries from June–November 1936. He served as a Teachta Dála for the Louth constituency from 1923 to 1973, he was Chief of Staff of the Irish Republican Army. A member of Sinn Féin, he was a founding member of Fianna Fáil. Aiken was born on 13 February 1898 at Carrickbracken, County Armagh, the seventh and youngest child of James Aiken, a builder from County Tyrone, Mary McGeeney of Corromannon, County Armagh. James Aiken built Catholic churches in South Armagh. Aiken was a nationalist, a member of the IRB and a county councillor, who refused an offer to stand as an MP. James was Chairman of the Local Board of the Poor Guardians. In 1900, on her visit to Ireland, he told Queen Victoria that he would not welcome her "until Ireland has become free."He was educated in Newry by Irish Christian Brothers at Abbey Christian Brothers Grammar School and at St Colman's College, Newry.
In 1914 he joined the Gaelic League. He became secretary of the local branch in 1917, joining Sinn Féin, founded a Sinn Féin club or cumann at Camlough, County Armagh while working at the Co-Operative Flax-Scutching society. Aiken was committed to Gaelic speech which he learnt at the Donegal Gaeltacht, Ormeath Irish College. Aiken was elected Lieutenant of the local Irish Volunteers in 1917. While an active Sinn Féin officer of Camlough Club. At the rowdy by-election at Bessbrook in February 1918, Aiken was elected a Captain of Volunteers, stewarding electioneering; as Comhairle Ceanntair it was job to be chief fund-raiser for the Dublin Executive, responsible for the Dáil Loan, the first to be issued by the Dáil Éireann. He was promoted through the ranks, rising to Commandant of Newry Brigade and commander of 4th Northern Division from the spring 1921; the IRA units he would command extended from County Louth and western County Down, all of County Armagh, from March 1921. In 1919 Aiken's IRA activities consisted of arms raids.
He led raids on dumps of the unionist militia the Ulster Volunteers or UVF who had imported weapons to resist Home Rule in 1913-14. Aiken raided UVF dumps and prominent local unionists at Ballyedmond Castle and Loughall Manor. Though they failed to capture many weapons the raids gave experience to newly recruited Volunteers. Aiken setting up GAA Club, Gaelic League branch, a Cumann na mBan camogie league. Within a few years becoming Chairman of the Armagh branch of Sinn Féin, he was elected onto Armagh County Council. Making an outward display of defiance, Aiken raised the republican Irish tricolor, opposite Camlough Barracks in Armagh, designed as deliberate provocation. Aiken, operating from the south Armagh/north Louth area, was one of the most effective IRA commanders in Ulster during the Irish War of Independence. In May 1920 he led 200 IRA men in an attack on the Royal Irish Constabulary barracks in Newtownhamilton, assaulting the building and burning it with paraffin spayed from a potato sprayer, though police did not surrender..
Aiken himself led a squad which blasted a hole in the wall of the barracks with gelignite and entered it, exchanging shots with the policemen inside. In December 1920 he led another assault, this time abortive, on the RIC station in his home village of Camlough. In reprisal, the newly formed Ulster Special Constabulary burned Aiken's home and those of ten of his relatives in the Camlough area, they arrested and killed two local Republicans. From this point onward, the conflict in Aiken's area took on an bitter and sectarian quality. Aiken tried on a number of occasion to ambush USC patrols from the ruins of his family home. In April 1921, Aiken's IRA unit mounted an operation in Creggan, County Armagh to ambush the police and Special Constabulary. One Special was killed in the ensuing ambush; some accounts have reported that Aiken took the Protestant Church congregation in the village hostage, to lure the Specials into an ambush. But Mathew Lewis's account in'Frank Aiken's War' states that both Catholic and Protestant church goers were held in a pub to prevent their getting caught in the crossfire of the ambush..
Sectarian bitterness deepened in the area. Starting the following month, the Special Constabulary started shooting Catholic civilians in revenge for IRA attacks. In June 1921 Aiken organised his most successful attack on the British military, when his men derailed a train line under a British troop train headed from Belfast to Dublin, killing the train guard, three cavalry soldiers and 63 of their horses. Shortly afterwards, the Specials took four Catholics from their homes in Bessbrook and Altnaveigh and killed them. After an IRA reorganisation in the spring of 1921 Aiken was put in command of the Fourth Northern Division of the Irish Republican Army in April 1921; the cycle of violence in the south-east Ulster area continued in the following year, despite a formal truce with the British from 11 July 1921. Michael Collins organised a clandestine guerrilla offensive against the newly created Northern Ireland in May 1922. For reasons that have never been properly determined and his Fourth Northern Division never took part in the operation, although it was planned that they would.
Aiken remained Head of the Ulster Council Command however. Nonetheless, the local IRA's inaction at this time did not end the bloodshed in South Armagh. Aiken has been accused b
Dáil Éireann is the lower house, principal chamber, of the Oireachtas, which includes the President of Ireland and Seanad Éireann. It consists of 158 members, known as Teachta Dála. TDs represent 40 constituencies, are directly elected at least once every five years under the system of proportional representation by means of the single transferable vote, 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, to nominate and remove the Taoiseach. Since 1922, it has met in Leinster House in Dublin; the name Dáil Éireann is taken from the Irish language but is the official title of the body in both English and Irish, including both language versions of the Irish constitution. Since the Dáil was first established in 1919, it has been described variously as a "National Assembly", a "Chamber of Deputies" and a "House of Representatives".
A dáil means an assembly or parliament, so a literal translation of Dáil Éireann is "Assembly of Ireland". Article 15 of Ireland's constitution describes the body as "a House of Representatives to be called Dáil Éireann". In common usage, the word Dáil is accompanied by the definite article. So one speaks of "the Dáil" but not "the Dáil Éireann"; the plural Dálaí is used. Dáil Éireann has 158 members. Under current legislation, members are directly elected at least once in every five years by the people of Ireland under a system of proportional representation known as the single transferable vote. Membership of the Dáil is open to Irish citizens. A member of the Dáil is known as a Teachta TD or Deputy; the Dáil electorate consists of Irish and British citizens over 18 years of age who are registered to vote in Ireland. Under the Constitution a general election for Dáil Éireann must occur once in every seven years, an earlier maximum of five years is set by the Electoral Act, 1992; the Taoiseach can, by making a request to the president dissolve the Dáil at any time, in which case a general election must occur within thirty days.
The President may refuse to dissolve the Dáil, ask the Dáil to form an alternative government without a general election taking place. The STV electoral system broadly produces proportional representation in the Dáil; the small size of the constituencies used, however gives a small advantage to the larger parties and under-represents smaller parties. Since the 1990s the norm in the state has been coalition governments. Prior to 1989, one-party government by the Fianna Fáil party was common; the multi-seat constituencies required by STV mean that candidates must compete for election with others from the same party. This is accused by some of producing TDs who are excessively parochial. Two failed attempts – 1959 and 1968 – have been made to change to the United Kingdom's plurality voting system electoral system. Both were rejected in referendums. By-elections occur under the alternative vote system; every constituency elects between three and five TDs. The constitution specifies that no constituency may return fewer than three TDs but does not specify any upper limit to constituency magnitude.
However, statute specifies a maximum of five seats per constituency. The constitution requires that constituency boundaries be reviewed at least once in every twelve years, so that boundaries may be redrawn to accommodate changes in population. Boundary changes are drafted by an independent commission, its recommendations are followed. Malapportionment is forbidden by the constitution. Under the Constitution, the commission is required to refer to the most recent Census of Ireland when considering boundary changes. Under the Constitution of Ireland there must never be fewer than one TD for every thirty thousand of the population, nor more than one for every twenty thousand. In the 29th Dáil there was one TD for every 25,000 citizens, in line with many other European Union member state national parliament ratios with Malta having one MP for every 6,000 citizens and Spain having one MP for every 130,000 citizens. Ireland has a similar MP to Citizen ratio to Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Finland, Latvia and Sweden.
With the adoption of the current constitution in 1937 the membership of the Dáil was reduced from 153 to 138, but in the 1960s the number was increased to 144 for the 1977 election to 148, only to be increased more in 1981 to the figure of 166. The Electoral Act 2011 provides that the number of members "shall be not less than 153 and not more than 160"; this came into effect at the 2016 general election. The Dáil chamber has confrontational benches but the end segment is curved to create a partial hemicycle; the government TDs sit with the main opposition party on his right. The Chamber was adapted for use as a Parliament from its former use as a lecture theatre; the First Dáil Éireann was established on 21 January 1919 as the single chamber parliament of th
Fianna Fáil Fianna Fáil – The Republican Party, is a conservative political party in Ireland. The party was founded as an Irish republican party on 23 March 1926 by Éamon de Valera and his supporters after they split from Sinn Féin on the issue of abstentionism, in the aftermath of the Irish Civil War. Fianna Fáil has since 1927 been one of Ireland's two major parties, along with Fine Gael; the party dominated Irish political life for most of the 20th century, since its foundation either it or Fine Gael has led every government. Between 1989 and 2011, it led coalition governments with parties of the right. Fianna Fáil was last in government from 1997 to 2011 under Bertie Ahern and Brian Cowen, with a periodic high of 81 seats in 2002, reduced to 77 in 2007 and to 20 in 2011, the lowest in the party's history. Having won 44 seats at the 2016 general election, Fianna Fáil is the largest Opposition party in both houses of the Oireachtas, with party leader Micheál Martin entering into a confidence and supply arrangement with a Fine Gael-led minority government at the beginning of the 32nd Dáil.
Fianna Fáil is a member of the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe and of Liberal International. Since 9 February 2019, Fianna Fáil has been in partnership with the Social Democratic and Labour Party in Northern Ireland. Fianna Fáil was founded by a former leader of Sinn Féin, he and a number of other members split from Sinn Féin when a motion he proposed—which called for elected members to be allowed to take their seats in Dáil Éireann if and when the controversial Oath of Allegiance was removed—failed to pass at the Sinn Féin Ard Fheis in 1926. The party adopted its name on 2 April of the same year. While it was opposed to the Treaty settlement, it rejected abstentionism, instead aiming to republicanise the Irish Free State from within. Fianna Fáil's platform of economic autarky had appeal among the farmers, working-class people and the poor, while alienating more affluent classes; the party first entered government on 9 March 1932. It was in power for 61 of the 79 years between and the election of 2011.
Its longest continuous period in office has been 11 months. Its longest single period out of office in the 20th century was four months. Seven of the party's eight leaders have served as Taoiseach. Fianna Fáil joined the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe party on 16 April 2009, the party's Members of the European Parliament sat in the ALDE Group during the 7th European Parliament term from June 2009 to 1 July 2014; the party is an observer affiliate of the Liberal International. It was the largest party in the Dáil after every general election from that of 1932 until that of 2007. In the 2011 general election it suffered the worst defeat of a sitting government in the history of the Irish state; this loss was described as "historic" in its proportions, "unthinkable". The party sank from being the largest in the Dáil to the third-largest. Fianna Fáil's success was credited by The Irish Times to its local structure; the basic unit was the cumann. At the party's height it had an average of 75 per constituency.
The party claimed 55,000 members in 2004, a figure which political scientist Eoin O'Malley considers exaggerated compared to membership figures for other parties. However, from the early 1990s onward; every cumann was entitled to three votes to selection conventions irrespective of its size. Another problem had arisen with the emergence of parallel organisations grouped around candidates or elected officials. Supporters and election workers for a particular candidate were loyal to a candidate and not to the party. If the candidate were to leave the party, through either resignation, retirement or defeat at an election, the candidate's supporters would depart. Although this phenomenon was nothing new it increased from the early 1990s in the Dublin Region with former Taoiseach Bertie Ahern's "Drumcondra mafia" and the groups supporting Tom Kitt and Séamus Brennan in Dublin South that were separate from the official party structure. Since the 2007 election, the party's structure has weakened; this was in part exacerbated by significant infighting between candidates in the run-up to the 2011 general election.
The Irish Times estimated that half of its 3,000 cumainn were moribund. This fraction rose in Dublin with the exception of Dublin West, the former seat of both Brian Lenihan Snr and Brian Lenihan Jnr. Fianna Fáil is seen as a typical catch-all party. R. Ken Carty wrote of Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael that they were'heterogeneous in their bases of support undifferentiated in terms of policy or programme, remarkably stable in their support levels'. Evidence from expert surveys, opinion polls and candidate surveys all fail to identify strong distinctions between the two parties. Many point to Ireland's Civil War politics, feel that the ba