Irish general election, February 1982

Irish general election, February 1982

The Irish general election of February 1982 was held on 18 February 1982, three weeks after the dissolution of the Dáil on 27 January. The newly elected 166 members of the 23rd Dáil assembled at Leinster House on 9 March when a new Taoiseach and government were appointed.

The general election took place in 41 parliamentary constituencies throughout the Republic of Ireland for 166 seats in the lower house of parliament, Dáil Éireann.


The first general election of 1982 was caused by the sudden collapse of the Fine Gael-Labour Party coalition government when the budget was defeated. The Minister for Finance John Bruton, attempted to put VAT on children shoes, a measure which was rejected by some left-wing independent Teachta Dála (TDs). The Taoiseach Garret FitzGerald, dissolved the Dáil immediately, however, while he was with President Patrick Hillery at Áras an Uachtaráin a number of Fianna Fáil members attempted to ring the President, urging him not to grant a dissolution. If he refused a dissolution, FitzGerald would have to resign and Fianna Fáil would be invited to form a government. While the attempt to contact the President was highly unconstitutional, (the President can only take advice from the Taoiseach) a dissolution was granted and the general election campaign began in earnest.

The campaign was largely fought on economic issues. Spending cuts were a reality for whatever party won, but the scale of the cuts were played down by all parties. Fine Gael continued its policies that it had been implementing while in office. The Fianna Fáil leader Charles Haughey dismissed the budget cuts when the campaign first began, however, the reality soon became apparent and the party adopted similar policies that involved budget cuts.


Fianna Fáil emerged as the largest party and looked most likely to form a government. However, internal divisions within the party threatened Charles Haughey's nomination for Taoiseach. In the end a leadership challenge did not take place and Haughey was the party's nominee for Taoiseach. Haughey gained the support of the Independent TD, Tony Gregory, the Independent Fianna Fáil TD Neil Blaney and the three Workers Party deputies and was appointed Taoiseach.

First time TDs

A total of 21 TDs were elected for the first time in this election:
* Michael Ahern
* Thomas Bellew
* Gerry Brady
* Matt Brennan
* Ned Brennan
* Richard Bruton
* Sean Byrne
* Donal Carey
* James Corr
* Proinsias De Rossa
* Frank Fahey
* Alexis FitzGerald, Jnr
* Patrick Gallagher
* Tony Gregory
* Colm Hilliard
* Gemma Hussey
* Michael Lynch
* Maurice Manning
* Dinny McGinley
* Liam Naughten
* Willie O'Dea

The following 2 TDs were elected in subsequent by-elections:
* Liam Skelly
* Noel Treacy

Outgoing TDs

* James Tully
* Richie Ryan
* John Connor (Lost seat)
* Carrie Acheson (Lost seat)
* Peadar Clohessy (Lost seat)
* Hugh Byrne (FG) (Lost seat)
* Madeleine Taylor-Quinn (FG) (Lost seat)
* Fergus O'Brien (FG) (Lost seat)

ee also

* Members of the 23rd Dáil
* Government of the 23rd Dáil

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