February 1982 Irish general election

The February 1982 Irish general election 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.

February 1982 Irish general election

18 February 1982

165 of 166 seats in Dáil Éireann
84 seats needed for a majority
  First party Second party
Leader Charles Haughey Garret FitzGerald
Party Fianna Fáil Fine Gael
Leader since 7 December 1979 1977
Leader's seat Dublin North-Central Dublin South-East
Last election 78 seats, 45.3% 65 seats, 36.5%
Seats won 81 63
Seat change 3 2
Popular vote 786,851 621,088
Percentage 47.3% 37.3%
Swing 2.0% 0.8%

  Third party Fourth party
Leader Michael O'Leary Tomás Mac Giolla
Party Labour Party Sinn Féin - The Workers' Party
Leader since 1981 1977
Leader's seat Dublin Central N/A
Last election 15 seats, 9.9% 1 seat, 1.7%
Seats won 15 3
Seat change 2
Popular vote 151,875 38,088
Percentage 9.1% 2.3%
Swing 0.8% 0.6%

Percentage of seats gained by each of the three major parties, and number of seats gained by smaller parties and independents.

Taoiseach before election

Garret FitzGerald
Fine Gael

Subsequent Taoiseach

Charles Haughey
Fianna Fáil

The general election took place in 41 parliamentary constituencies throughout 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 GaelLabour Party coalition government when the budget was defeated. The Minister for Finance, John Bruton, attempted to put VAT on children's shoes. This measure was rejected by Jim Kemmy, a left-wing independent Teachta Dála, and Joe Sherlock of Sinn Féin the Workers' Party. The Taoiseach Garret FitzGerald immediately sought a dissolution of the Dáil. However, while he was with President Patrick Hillery at Áras an Uachtaráin, a number of Fianna Fáil members attempted to telephone the President, urging him not to grant a dissolution. If the President refused a dissolution, FitzGerald would have to resign and Fianna Fáil would be invited to form a government. The attempt to contact the President was highly unconstitutional, as the President can only take advice from the Taoiseach. In the event, 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 proposed to continue the policies that it had been implementing while in office. The Fianna Fáil leader Charles Haughey dismissed the need for budget cuts when the campaign first began; however, the need for realism soon became apparent, and the party adopted similar policies that involved budget cuts.


23rd Irish general election 18 February 1982[1][2][3]
Party Leader Seats ± % of
First Pref
% FPv ±%
Fianna Fáil Charles Haughey 81 +3 48.8 786,951 47.3 +2.0
Fine Gael Garret FitzGerald 63 –2 38.0 621,088 37.3 +0.8
Labour Party Michael O'Leary 15 0 9.0 151,875 9.1 –0.8
Sinn Féin - The Workers' Party Tomás Mac Giolla 3 +2 1.8 38,088 2.3 +0.6
Sinn Féin Ruairí Ó Brádaigh 0 New 0 16,894 1.0
Irish Republican Socialist 0 New 0 2,716 0.2
Communist Party 0 0 0 462 0.0 0
Independent N/A 4 0 2.4 46,059 2.8 –0.9
Spoilt votes 14,367
Total 166 0 100 1,678,500 100
Electorate/Turnout 2,275,450 73.8%

Independents include Independent Fianna Fáil (11,732 votes, 1 seat).

  • Fianna Fáil minority government formed.

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 Socialist TD Tony Gregory, the Independent Fianna Fáil TD Neil Blaney and the three Sinn Féin the Workers' Party deputies, and was appointed Taoiseach.

Voting summary

First preference vote
Fianna Fáil
Fine Gael
Sinn Féin (Workers' Party)
Sinn Féin

Seats summary

Assembly seats
Fianna Fáil
Fine Gael
Sinn Féin (Workers' Party)

Dáil membership changes

The following changes took place as a result of the election:

  • 7 outgoing TDs retired
  • 1 vacant seat at election time
  • 157 outgoing TDs stood for re-election (also John O'Connell, the outgoing Ceann Comhairle, who was automatically returned)
    • 136 of those were re-elected
    • 21 failed to be re-elected
  • 29 successor TDs were elected
    • 21 were elected for the first time
    • 8 had previously been TDs
  • There was 1 successor female TD, who replaced 4 outgoing; thus the total decreased by 3 to 8.
  • There were changes in 26 of 41 constituencies

Where more than one change took place in a constituency the concept of successor is an approximation for presentation only.

Constituency Departing TD Party Change Comment Successor TD Party
Carlow–Kilkenny Tom Nolan Fianna Fáil Lost seat Gibbons: Former TD Jim Gibbons Fianna Fáil
Cavan–Monaghan Kieran Doherty Anti H-Block Vacant[4] Leonard: Former TD Jimmy Leonard Fianna Fáil
Clare Madeline Taylor Fine Gael Lost seat Donal Carey Fine Gael
Cork East Carey Joyce Fianna Fáil Lost seat Michael Ahern Fianna Fáil
Cork North-Central No membership changes
Cork North-West No membership changes
Cork South-Central Hugh Coveney Fine Gael Lost seat Jim Corr Fine Gael
Cork South-West Flor Crowley Fianna Fáil Lost seat Walsh:Former TD Joe Walsh Fianna Fáil
Donegal North-East No membership changes
Donegal South-West James White Fine Gael Retired Dinny McGinley Fine Gael
Dublin Central Alice Glenn Fine Gael Lost seat Tony Gregory Independent
Dublin North No membership changes
Dublin North-Central Noël Browne Socialist Labour Party Retired Richard Bruton Fine Gael
Dublin North-East Liam Fitzgerald Fianna Fáil Lost seat Ned Brennan Fianna Fáil
Seán Loftus Independent Lost seat Maurice Manning Fine Gael
Dublin North-West Hugh Byrne Fine Gael Lost seat Proinsias De Rossa Sinn Féin the Workers Party
Dublin South No membership changes
Dublin South-Central Fergus O'Brien Fine Gael Lost seat Cluskey:Former TD Frank Cluskey Labour Party
Dublin South-East Seán Moore Fianna Fáil Lost seat Quinn:Former TD Ruairi Quinn Labour Party
Richie Ryan Fine Gael Retired Alexis FitzGerald Jnr Fine Gael
Dublin South-West No membership changes
Dublin West Eileen Lemass Fianna Fáil Lost seat Lawlor:Former TD Liam Lawlor Fianna Fáil
Dún Laoghaire No membership changes
Galway East No membership changes
Galway West Mark Killilea Jnr Fianna Fáil Lost seat Frank Fahey Fianna Fáil
Kerry North No membership changes
Kerry South No membership changes
Kildare Bernard Durkan Fine Gael Lost seat Gerry Brady Fianna Fáil
Laois–Offaly No membership changes
Limerick East Peadar Clohessy Fianna Fáil Lost seat Willie O'Dea Fianna Fáil
Limerick West No membership changes
Longford–Westmeath No membership changes
Louth Paddy Agnew Anti H-Block Retired Thomas Bellew Fianna Fáil
Mayo East No membership changes
Mayo West No membership changes
Meath Brendan Crinion Fianna Fáil Retired Colm Hilliard Fianna Fáil
James Tully Labour Party Retired Michael Lynch Fianna Fáil
Roscommon John Connor Fine Gael Lost seat Liam Naughten Fine Gael
Sligo–Leitrim Joe McCartin Fine Gael Lost seat Matt Brennan Fianna Fáil
Tipperary North Michael Smith Fianna Fáil Lost seat Kennedy:Former TD Michael O'Kennedy Fianna Fáil
Tipperary South Carrie Acheson Fianna Fáil Lost seat Sean Byrne Fianna Fáil
Waterford Billy Kenneally Fianna Fáil Lost seat Patrick Gallagher Sinn Féin the Workers Party
Wexford Brendan Corish Labour Party Retired Browne:Former TD Seán Browne Fianna Fáil
Wicklow Paudge Brennan Fianna Fáil Lost seat Gemma Hussey Fine Gael

See also


  1. "23rd Dáil February 1982 General Election". ElectionsIreland.org. Retrieved 3 July 2009.
  2. "Dáil elections since 1918". ARK Northern Ireland. Retrieved 3 July 2009.
  3. Dieter Nohlen & Philip Stöver (2010) Elections in Europe: A data handbook, pp1009-1017 ISBN 978-3-8329-5609-7
  4. Doherty died in August 1981 but no by-election had been called by the time of the general election
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