General Election, 11th June 1981


22nd DAIL (166 DEPUTIES)

Others include : Sinn Fein the Workers Party ; the Socialist Labour Party ; the Communist Party of Ireland ; the Socialist Party ; and non - party candidates

Turnout 76%
Number of women elected - 11 (6%)

Elected for Clare : Brendan Daly (FF), Sylvester Barrett (FF),
Madeleine Taylor (FG), William (Bill) A. Loughnane (FF)

Stardust fire tragedy in Dublin in February causes postponement of election until June

H-Block hunger strikes at Maze Prison by Republican prisoners overshadow campaign - 2 H-Block candidates elected to 22nd Dail

Controversy over Section 31 of the Broadcasting Act and air time for H-Block candidates

RTE bans FF election anthem "Charlie’s Song" from airwaves - Charles Haughey leader of FF and Taoiseach since December 1979

Controversy over FF candidates Jim Tunney, Gerard Brady and Liam Lawlor broadcasting on illegal pirate radio stations

Economy major issue in election as main parties promote policies on taxation, inflation, public borrowing and unemployment

Live TV debate between party leaders deemed boring : Haughey "evasive", Fitzgerald "highly strung" and Cluskey "wooden and repetitive"

Ex-Taoisigh Liam Cosgrave and Jack Lynch bow out

FF returns lowest vote since 1961, FG highest since Cumann na nGaedheal in 1927

Labour Party leader Frank Cluskey loses seat, resigns as Lab leader

Dick Spring (Lab) takes his father Dan’s seat in Kerry North

Other candidates entering the Dail for the first time include Seamus Brennan (FF), Alan Dukes (FG), Alice Glenn (FG), Mary Harney (FF), Michael D. Higgins (Lab), Jim Kemmy (Non-party), Gay Mitchell (FG), Michael Noonan (FG), Nora Owen (FG), Alan Shatter (FG), Madeleine Taylor (FG), Mervyn Taylor (Lab) and Ivan Yates (FG)

Final election result : FF 78, FG 65, Lab 15, Others 8

26 June : FG-Lab Coalition govt formed with Fitzgerald elected Taoiseach, Michael O’Leary, new Lab leader, Tanaiste

    "We are on the brink of a unique breakthrough in Irish politics, that is, the emergence of Fine Gael as the largest
    single party in the State.
    Should this assessment be correct, and should we require additional support in the Dail, we are prepared to discuss
    with the Labour Party the formation of a strong alternative government."
    - Garret Fitzgerald, during the general election campaign 

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