World Library  
Flag as Inappropriate
Email this Article

Fianna Fáil

Article Id: WHEBN0000011536
Reproduction Date:

Title: Fianna Fáil  
Author: World Heritage Encyclopedia
Language: English
Subject: Members of the 23rd Seanad, Government of the 30th Dáil, Irish general election, 2011, Minister for Education and Skills, Charles McDonald (Irish politician)
Publisher: World Heritage Encyclopedia

Fianna Fáil

Fianna Fáil ,[1] also known as Fianna Fáil, The Republican Party,[2] is a centrist[3][4][5] to centre-right[6][7][8] and conservative[9][10][11][12][13] political party in the Republic of Ireland. Originally an Irish republican party, it was founded on 23 March 1926 after a split in Sinn Féin on the issue of abstentionism.[14] Fianna Fáil's name is traditionally translated into English as Soldiers of Destiny, although a more accurate rendition would be Warriors of Fál ("Fál" being a legendary name for Ireland).[15] Historically, Fianna Fáil has been seen as to the Left-wing politics of Fine Gael and to the Right-wing politics of Sinn Féin and the Labour Party and is generally seen as a classic "catch all" populist party - representing a broad range of people from all social classes.[16][17] Fianna Fáil has led governments including parties of the centre-left (Labour and the Green Party) and of the centre-right (the now-defunct Progressive Democrats). It has been led by Micheál Martin since January 2011.[16]

The party is also organised in Northern Ireland but has yet to contest an election there.[18]


Alternative logo

Fianna Fáil was founded by Éamon de Valera[19] when he and a number of other members split from Sinn Féin when his motion — which called for elected members 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.[20] The party adopted its name on 2 April of the same year. Though his new party, Fianna Fáil, was also opposed to the Treaty settlement, it adopted a different approach of aiming to republicanise the Irish Free State. As far as the party's economic policies are concerned, the Fianna Fáil's platform of economic autarky had appeal among the farmers, working-class people and the poor, whilst initially alienating more affluent classes.[21]

From the formation of the first Fianna Fáil government on 9 March 1932 until the election of 2011, the party was in power for 61 of 79 years. Its longest continuous period in office was 15 years and 11 months (March 1932–February 1948). Its single longest period out of office, in the 20th century, has been four years and four months (March 1973–July 1977). Seven of the party's eight leaders have served as Taoiseach.

Fianna Fáil joined the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe (ALDE) party on 16 April 2009, and the party's MEPs 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.[22]

It was the largest party in the Dáil at every general election from the 1932 general election until the 2011 general election, when it suffered the worst defeat of a sitting government in the history of the Irish state.[23][24] This loss was described as "historic" in its proportions,[25] and "unthinkable".[26] The party moved from being the largest party to the third-largest party in the Dáil.

Organisation and structure

Fianna Fáil's success was credited by The Irish Times to its local structure. The basic unit was the cumann (branch) which were then grouped into comhairle ceantair (district branch) and a comhairle dáil ceantair (constituency branch) in every constituency. At the party's height, it boasted 3,000 cumainn, an average of 75 per constituency. The party claimed 55,000 members in 2004, a figure which Eoin O'Malley, a political scientist, considers exaggerated compared to membership figures for other parties.

However, since the early 1990s the cumann structure was weakened. As every cumann was entitled to three votes to selection conventions irrespective of size, a large number of cumainn became in effect "paper cumainn" only used to ensure an aspiring or sitting candidate got enough votes. Another problem arose 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 was to leave the party, through either resignation, retirement or defeat at election, the candidate's supporters would often depart. Although this phenomenon was nothing new, (the most famous example being Neil Blaney's "Donegal Mafia")[27] it increased significantly from the early 1990s particularly in the Dublin Region with former Taoiseach Bertie Ahern's "Drumcondra mafia" and the separate groups supporting Tom Kitt and Séamus Brennan in Dublin South largely separate from the official party structure.

Since the 2007 election, the party's structure has significantly weakened. This was in part exacerbated by significant infighting between candidates in the run up to the 2011 general election.[28] The Irish Times estimated that half of its 3,000 cumainn are effectively moribund. This fraction rises in Dublin with the exception of Dublin West, the former seat of both Brian Lenihan, Snr and Brian Lenihan, Jnr.[29]


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, relatively undifferentiated in terms of policy or programme, and remarkably stable in their support levels'. Evidence from expert surveys, opinion polls and candidate surveys all fail to identify strong distinctions between the two largest parties, Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael.[30][31][32][33] Many point to Ireland's civil war politics and feel that the basis for the division is the disagreement about the strategy to achieve a united Ireland. Kevin Byrne and political scientist Eoin O'Malley rejected this and have argued that the differences between the two parties goes much further back in Irish history. They linked the parties to different nationalist traditions (Irish Enlightenment and Gaelic Nationalist) which in turn could be linked to migrations of Anglo-Norman and new English into Ireland and the 'native' Gaelic population.[34]

The party's name and logo incorporates the words 'The Republican Party'. According to Fianna Fáil, "Republican here stands both for the unity of the island and a commitment to the historic principles of European republican philosophy, namely liberty, equality and fraternity."[35]

Leadership and president

Although the posts of leader and party president of Fianna Fáil are separate, with the former elected by the Parliamentary Party and the latter elected by the Ardfheis (thus allowing for the posts to be held by different people, in theory), in practice they have always been held by the one person. However, as the Ardfheis may have already been held in any given year by the time a new leader is elected, the selection of the new party president might not take place until the next year.

The following are the terms of office as party leader and as Taoiseach:

Leader Period Constituency Years as Taoiseach
Éamon de Valera 1926–1959 Clare 1932193319371938194319441948; 19511954; 1957–1959
(Government of the 7th Dáil, 8th Dáil, 9th Dáil, 10th Dáil, 11th Dáil, 12th Dáil, 14th Dáil and 16th Dáil)
Seán Lemass 1959–1966 Dublin South–Central 1959–19611965–1966
(Government of the 16th Dáil, 17th Dáil and 18th Dáil)
Jack Lynch 1966–1979 Cork Borough (1948–69)
Cork City North–West (1969–77)
Cork City (1977–81)
1966–19691973; 1977–1979
(Government of the 18th Dáil, 19th Dáil and 21st Dáil)
Charles Haughey 1979–1992 Dublin North–East (1957–77)
Dublin Artane (1977–81)
Dublin North–Central (1981–92)
1979–1981; Feb 1982Nov 1982; 19871989–1992
(Government of the 21st Dáil, 23rd Dáil, 25th Dáil and 26th Dáil)
Albert Reynolds 1992–1994 Longford–Roscommon 1992–1992–1994
(22nd Government of Ireland and 23rd Government of Ireland)
Bertie Ahern 1994–2008 Dublin Central 199720022007–2008
(Government of the 28th Dáil, 29th Dáil and 30th Dáil)
Brian Cowen 2008–2011 Laois–Offaly 2008–2011
(Government of the 30th Dáil)
Micheál Martin 2011–present Cork South–Central

Deputy leader

Name Period Constituency
Joseph Brennan 1973–77 Donegal–Leitrim
George Colley 1977–82 Dublin Central
Ray MacSharry 1982–83 Sligo–Leitrim
Brian Lenihan, Snr 1983–90 Dublin West
John P. Wilson 1990–92 Cavan
Bertie Ahern 1992–94 Dublin Central
Mary O'Rourke 1995–2002 Longford–Westmeath
Brian Cowen 2002–08 Laois–Offaly
Mary Coughlan 2008–11 Donegal South–West
Mary Hanafin 2011 Dún Laoghaire
Brian Lenihan, Jnr 2011 Dublin West
Éamon Ó Cuív 2011–12 Galway West
Position abolished

Seanad leader

Name Period Panel
Eoin Ryan, Snr 1977–82 Industrial and Commercial Panel
Mick Lanigan 1982–90 Industrial and Commercial Panel (1982–89)
Nominated member of Seanad Éireann (1989–90)
Seán Fallon 1990–92 Industrial and Commercial Panel
G. V. Wright 1992–97 Nominated member of Seanad Éireann
Donie Cassidy 1997–2002 Labour Panel
Mary O'Rourke 2002–07 Nominated member of Seanad Éireann
Donie Cassidy 2007–11 Labour Panel
Darragh O'Brien 2011–present Labour Panel

General election results

Election Seats won ± Position First Pref votes % Government Leader
1927 (Jun)
44 / 153
Increase44 Increase2nd 299,486 26.2% Opposition Éamon de Valera
1927 (Sep)
57 / 153
Increase13 Steady2nd 411,777 35.2% Opposition Éamon de Valera
72 / 153
Increase15 Increase1st 566,498 44.5% Minority gov't (supported by LP) Éamon de Valera
77 / 153
Increase5 Steady1st 689,054 49.7% Minority gov't (supported by LP) Éamon de Valera
69 / 138
Decrease8 Steady1st 599,040 45.2% Minority gov't (supported by LP) Éamon de Valera
77 / 138
Increase8 Steady1st 667,996 51.9% Majority gov't Éamon de Valera
67 / 138
Decrease10 Steady1st 557,525 41.9% Minority gov't Éamon de Valera
76 / 138
Increase9 Steady1st 595,259 48.9% Majority gov't Éamon de Valera
68 / 147
Decrease8 Steady1st 553,914 41.9% Opposition Éamon de Valera
69 / 147
Increase1 Steady1st 616,212 46.3% Minority gov't (supported by Ind) Éamon de Valera
65 / 147
Decrease4 Steady1st 578,960 43.4% Opposition Éamon de Valera
78 / 147
Increase13 Steady1st 592,994 48.3% Majority gov't Éamon de Valera
70 / 144
Decrease8 Steady1st 512,073 43.8% Minority gov't (supported by Ind) Seán Lemass
72 / 144
Increase2 Steady1st 597,414 47.7% Majority gov't Seán Lemass
75 / 144
Increase3 Steady1st 602,234 45.7% Majority gov't Jack Lynch
69 / 144
Decrease6 Steady1st 624,528 46.2% Opposition Jack Lynch
84 / 148
Increase15 Steady1st 811,615 50.6% Majority gov't Jack Lynch
78 / 166
Decrease6 Steady1st 777,616 45.3% Opposition Charles Haughey
1982 (Feb)
81 / 166
Increase3 Steady1st 786,951 47.3% Minority gov't (supported by SFTWP and Ind) Charles Haughey
1982 (Nov)
75 / 166
Decrease6 Steady1st 763,313 45.2% Opposition Charles Haughey
81 / 166
Increase6 Steady1st 784,547 44.1% Minority gov't (supported by Ind) Charles Haughey
77 / 166
Decrease4 Steady1st 731,472 44.1% Coalition (FF-PD) Charles Haughey
68 / 166
Decrease9 Steady1st 674,650 39.1% Coalition (FF-LP) Albert Reynolds
77 / 166
Increase9 Steady1st 703,682 39.3% Coalition (FF-PD) Bertie Ahern
81 / 166
Increase4 Steady1st 770,748 41.5% Coalition (FF-PD) Bertie Ahern
77 / 166
Decrease4 Steady1st 858,565 41.6% Coalition (FF-GP-PD) Bertie Ahern
20 / 166
Decrease57 Decrease3rd 387,358 17.5% Opposition Micheál Martin

Front bench

Ógra Fianna Fáil

Fianna Fáil's youth wing is called Ógra Fianna Fáil. Formed in 1975, it plays an active role in recruiting new members and supporting election campaigns. Ógra also plays an important role in the party organisation where it currently has five representatives on the Ard Chomhairle (National Executive).

Senator Thomas Byrne was the last nominated head or Cathaoirleach (Chairperson) of Ógra Fianna Fáil, before the youth wing introduced widespread oganisational reform following the heavy electoral defeat suffered by the whole party in 2011.

Fianna Fáil and Northern Politics

On 17 September 2007 Fianna Fáil announced that the party would, for the first time, organise in Northern Ireland.

The then Foreign Minister Dermot Ahern was asked to chair a committee on the matter: "In the period ahead Dermot Ahern will lead efforts to develop that strategy for carrying through this policy, examining timescales and structures. We will act gradually and strategically. We are under no illusions. It will not be easy. It will challenge us all. But I am confident we will succeed."[36]

The party embarked on its first ever recruitment drive north of the border in September 2007 in northern universities, and established two 'Political Societies', the William Drennan Cumann in Queens University, Belfast, and the Watty Graham Cumann in UU Magee, Derry, which subsequently became official units of Fianna Fáil's youth wing, attaining full membership and voting rights, and attained official voting delegates at the 2012 Árd Fheis.

Bertie Ahern announced on 7 December 2007 that Fianna Fáil had been registered in Northern Ireland by the Gerry McHugh, an independent MLA, announced he had joined the party.[37] Mr. McHugh confirmed that although he had joined the party, he would continue to sit as an independent MLA. In June 2010, Fianna Fáil opened its first official office in the North in Crossmaglen, Co. Armagh. The then Taoiseach Brian Cowen officially oepened the office, accompanied by Ministers Éamon Ó Cuív and Dermot Ahern and Deputies Rory O’Hanlon and Margaret Conlon. Discussing the party's slow development towards all-Ireland politics, Mr. Cowen observed: "We have a very open and pragmatic approach. We are a constitutional republican party and we make no secret of the aspirations on which this party was founded. It has always been very clear in our mind what it is we are seeking to achieve, that is to reconcile this country and not being prisoners of our past history. To be part of a generation that will build a new Ireland, an Ireland of which we can all be proud.".[38]

There has been speculation about an eventual merger with the Social Democratic and Labour Party (SDLP),[39] formerly the main Irish nationalist party in the Northern Ireland, but now smaller than Sinn Féin. This has been met with a negative reaction with former Deputy Leader of the SDLP, Seamus Mallon, stating he would be opposed to any such merger. The former leader of the SDLP, Margaret Ritchie, has also stated publicly that she opposes any merger famously announcing to the Labour Party Conference that such a merger would not happen on her "watch". At the 2010 Irish Labour Party conference she further criticised Fianna Fáil's record in government and also the National Asset Management Agency[40] On 23 February 2008, it was announced that a former UUP councillor, Colonel Harvey Bicker, had joined Fianna Fáil.[41]

Fianna Fáil has registered with the UK Electoral Commission and is technically a recognised party in Northern Ireland.[42] However, it has not officially contested any elections in Northern Ireland. At the party's 2014 Ard Fheis, a motion was passed without debate to stand candidates for election north of the border for the first time in 2019.[43]

Fianna Fail did have a member elected to the old Northern Ireland House of Commons in 1933 when Eamon DeValera was elected in South Down.

In European institutions

In the European Parliament from 1999 to 2009, Fianna Fáil was a leading member of Union for Europe of the Nations (UEN), a small national-conservative and Eurosceptic parliamentary group. European political commentators had often noted substantive ideological differences between the party and its colleagues, whose strongly conservative stances had at times prompted domestic criticism of Fianna Fáil. Fianna Fáil MEPs had previously been an attached to the European Progressive Democrats (1973–1984), European Democratic Alliance (1984–1995), and Union for Europe (1995–1999) groups before the creation of UEN.

Party headquarters, over the objections of some MEPs, had made several attempts to sever the party's links to the European right, including an aborted 2004 agreement to join the European Liberal Democrat and Reform (ELDR) Party, with whom it already sat in the Council of Europe under the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe (ALDE) banner. On 27 February 2009, Taoiseach Brian Cowen announced that Fianna Fáil proposed to join the ELDR Party and intended to sit with them in the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe (ALDE) Group in the European Parliament after the 2009 European elections.[44] The change was made official on 17 April 2009, when FF joined the ELDR Party.

In October 2009, it was reported that Fianna Fáil had irritated its new Liberal colleagues by failing to vote for the motion on press freedom in Italy (resulting in its defeat by a majority of one in the Parliament) and by trying to scupper their party colleagues' initiative for gay rights.[45] In January 2010, a report by academic experts writing for the site found that FF "do not seem to toe the political line" of the ALDE Group "when it comes to budget and civil liberties" issues.[46]

In the 2014 European elections, Fianna Fáil received 22.3% of first-preference votes but only returned a single MEP, a reduction in representation of two MEPs from the previous term. This was due to a combination of the party's vote further dropping in Dublin and a two candidate strategy in the Midlands North West constituency, which backfired, resulting in sitting MEP Pat the Cope Gallagher losing his seat.[47][48][49] On 23 June 2014, returning MEP Brian Crowley announced that he intended to sit with the European Conservatives and Reformists (ECR) rather than the ALDE group during the upcoming 8th term of the European parliament.[50] The following day on 24 June 2014 Crowley had the Fianna Fáil party whip withdrawn.[51]

See also


  1. ^
  2. ^
  3. ^
  4. ^
  5. ^
  6. ^
  7. ^
  8. ^
  9. ^
  10. ^
  11. ^
  12. ^
  13. ^
  14. ^
  15. ^
  16. ^ a b
  17. ^
  18. ^ a b
  19. ^ Notable New Yorkers – Eamon de Valéra
  20. ^ The Times, Irish Republican Split. Search For Basis of Cooperation 13 March 1926
  21. ^ Peter Mair and Liam Weeks, "The Party System," in Politics in the Republic of Ireland, ed. John Coakley and Michael Gallagher, 4th ed. (New York: Routledge, 2004), p. 140
  22. ^
  23. ^
  24. ^
  25. ^
  26. ^
  27. ^
  28. ^
  29. ^
  30. ^
  31. ^
  32. ^
  33. ^
  34. ^
  35. ^
  36. ^
  37. ^
  38. ^
  39. ^
  40. ^
  41. ^
  42. ^
  43. ^
  44. ^ "Full Text: Taoiseach Brian Cowen at the official Opening of 72nd Fianna Fáil Ard Fheis – Part 1", Fianna Fáil website, posted 27 February 2009
  45. ^
  46. ^
  47. ^
  48. ^
  49. ^
  50. ^
  51. ^

Further reading

  • Joe Ambrose (2006) Dan Breen and the IRA, Douglas Village, Cork : Mercier Press, 223 p., ISBN 1-85635-506-3
  • Bruce Arnold (2001) Jack Lynch: Hero in Crisis, Dublin : Merlin, 250p. ISBN 1-903582-06-7
  • Tim Pat Coogan (1993) De Valera : long fellow, long shadow, London : Hutchinson, 772 p., ISBN 0-09-175030-X
  • Joe Joyce and Peter Murtagh (1983) The Boss: Charles J. Haughey in government, Swords, Dublin : Poolbeg Press, 400 p., ISBN 0-905169-69-7
  • F.S.L. Lyons (1985) Ireland Since the Famine, 2nd rev. ed., London : FontanaPress, 800 p., ISBN 0-00-686005-2
  • Dorothy McCardle (1968) The Irish Republic. A documented chronicle of the Anglo-Irish conflict and the partitioning of Ireland, with a detailed account of the period 1916–1923, etc., 989 p., ISBN 0-552-07862-X
  • T. Ryle Dwyer (2001) Nice fellow : a biography of Jack Lynch, Cork : Mercier Press, 416 p., ISBN 1-85635-368-0
  • T. Ryle Dwyer (1999) Short fellow : a biography of Charles J. Haughey, Dublin : Marino, 477 p., ISBN 1-86023-100-4
  • T. Ryle Dwyer, (1997) Fallen Idol : Haughey's controversial career, Cork : Mercier Press, 191 p., ISBN 1-85635-202-1
  • Raymond Smith (1986) Haughey and O'Malley : The quest for power, Dublin : Aherlow, 295 p., ISBN 1-870138-00-7
  • Tim Ryan (1994) Albert Reynolds : the Longford leader : the unauthorised biography, Dublin : Blackwater Press, 226 p., ISBN 0-86121-549-4
  • Dick Walsh (1986) The Party: Inside Fianna Fáil, Dublin : Gill & Macmillan, 161 p., ISBN 0-7171-1446-5

External links

  • Official website
This article was sourced from Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License; additional terms may apply. World Heritage Encyclopedia content is assembled from numerous content providers, Open Access Publishing, and in compliance with The Fair Access to Science and Technology Research Act (FASTR), Wikimedia Foundation, Inc., Public Library of Science, The Encyclopedia of Life, Open Book Publishers (OBP), PubMed, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Center for Biotechnology Information, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health (NIH), U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, and, which sources content from all federal, state, local, tribal, and territorial government publication portals (.gov, .mil, .edu). Funding for and content contributors is made possible from the U.S. Congress, E-Government Act of 2002.
Crowd sourced content that is contributed to World Heritage Encyclopedia is peer reviewed and edited by our editorial staff to ensure quality scholarly research articles.
By using this site, you agree to the Terms of Use and Privacy Policy. World Heritage Encyclopedia™ is a registered trademark of the World Public Library Association, a non-profit organization.

Copyright © World Library Foundation. All rights reserved. eBooks from Project Gutenberg are sponsored by the World Library Foundation,
a 501c(4) Member's Support Non-Profit Organization, and is NOT affiliated with any governmental agency or department.