Leader of the Opposition (Ireland)

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Leader of the Opposition
Ceannaire an Fhreasúra
Micheal Martin (official portrait).jpg
Incumbent
Micheál Martin

since 9 March 2011
Term lengthWhile leader of the largest political party not in government
Inaugural holderThomas Johnson
Formation6 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.

When in the Dáil, the Leader of the Opposition sits on the right-hand side of the Ceann Comhairle and directly opposite of the Taoiseach.

To date there have been 17 Opposition Leaders, 9 of whom have been Taoiseach. The current Leader of the Opposition is Micheál Martin TD of the Fianna Fáil party, following the opening of the 31st Dáil on 9 March 2011.

Leader of the Opposition[change | change source]

  • Leaders who later became Taoiseach are indicated in bold.
No. Name
(Birth–Death)
Portrait Constituency Term of office Party Taoiseach[nb 1]
1. Éamon de Valera
(1882–1975)
Eamon de Valera c 1922-30.jpg Clare 9 January 1922 8 June 1922 Sinn Féin (Anti-Treaty) Arthur Griffith (1922)
2. Thomas Johnson
(1872–1963)
Tomjohnson.jpg Dublin County 9 September 1922 11 August 1927 Labour Party W. T. Cosgrave (1922–32)
(1) Éamon de Valera
(1882–1975)
Eamon de Valera c 1922-30.jpg Clare 11 August 1927 9 March 1932 Fianna Fáil
3. W. T. Cosgrave
(1880–1965)
William Thomas Cosgrave.jpg Cork Borough 9 March 1932 January 1944 Cumann na nGaedheal Éamon de Valera (1932–48)
Fine Gael
4. Thomas F. O'Higgins
(1890–1953)
No image.png Leix–Offaly January 1944 9 June 1944
5. Richard Mulcahy
(1886–1971)
Gen. Richard Mulcahy LCCN2014717121.jpg Tipperary 9 June 1944 18 February 1948
(1) Éamon de Valera
(1882–1975)
Eamon de Valera c 1922-30.jpg Clare 18 February 1948 13 June 1951 Fianna Fáil John A. Costello (1948–51)
6. John A. Costello
(1891–1976)
US visit of Taoiseach Costello in 1956 (cropped).jpg Dublin South-East 13 June 1951 2 June 1954 Fine Gael Éamon de Valera (1951–54)
(1) Éamon de Valera
(1882–1975)
Eamon de Valera c 1922-30.jpg Clare 2 June 1954 20 March 1957 Fianna Fáil John A. Costello (1954–57)
(6) John A. Costello
(1891–1976)
US visit of Taoiseach Costello in 1956 (cropped).jpg Dublin South-East 20 March 1957 21 October 1959 Fine Gael Éamon de Valera (1957–59)
Seán Lemass (1959–66)
7. James Dillon
(1902–1986)
No image.png Monaghan 21 October 1959 21 April 1965
8. Liam Cosgrave
(1920-2017)
Taoiseach Liam Cosgrave-Patricks Day 1976.jpg Dún Laoghaire and Rathdown 21 April 1965 14 March 1973
Jack Lynch (1966–73)
9. Jack Lynch
(1917–1999)
Jack Lynch 1967 (cropped).jpg Cork City North-West 14 March 1973 5 July 1977 Fianna Fáil Liam Cosgrave (1973–77)
10. Garret FitzGerald
(1926–2011)
Garret FitzGerald-Oval Office-Patricks Day 1976.jpg Dublin South-East 5 July 1977 30 June 1981 Fine Gael Jack Lynch (1977–79)
Charles Haughey (1979–81)
11. Charles Haughey
(1925–2006)
Charlie Haughey.jpeg Dublin North-Central 30 June 1981 9 March 1982 Fianna Fáil Garret FitzGerald (1981–82)
(10) Garret FitzGerald
(1926–2011)
Garret FitzGerald-Oval Office-Patricks Day 1976.jpg Dublin South-East 9 March 1982 14 December 1982 Fine Gael Charles Haughey (1982)
(11) Charles Haughey
(1925–2006)
Charlie Haughey.jpeg Dublin North-Central 14 December 1982 10 March 1987 Fianna Fáil Garret FitzGerald (1982–87)
12. Alan Dukes
(born 1945)
No image.png Kildare 10 March 1987 20 November 1990 Fine Gael Charles Haughey (1987–92)
13. John Bruton
(born 1947)
John Bruton 2011.jpg Meath 20 November 1990 15 December 1994
Albert Reynolds (1992–94)
14. Bertie Ahern
(born 1951)
BertieAhernBerlin2007-bis.jpg Dublin Central 15 December 1994 26 June 1997 Fianna Fáil John Bruton (1994–97)
(13) John Bruton
(born 1947)
John Bruton 2011.jpg Meath 26 June 1997 9 February 2001 Fine Gael Bertie Ahern (1997–2008)
15. Michael Noonan
(born 1943)
Michael Noonan.jpg Limerick East 9 February 2001 6 June 2002
16. Enda Kenny
(born 1951)
Enda Kenny EPP 2014 (cropped).jpg Mayo 6 June 2002 9 March 2011
Brian Cowen (2008–11)
17. Micheál Martin
(born 1960)
Micheál Martin.jpg Cork South-Central 9 March 2011 Incumbent Fianna Fáil Enda Kenny (2011–2017)
Leo Varadkar (2017–present)

Notes[change | change source]

  1. President of Dáil Éireann to 6 December 1922. President of the Executive Council to 29 December 1937.