Government of the 13th Dáil: Wikis


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Govt of the 11th Dáil (1943)
Govt of the 12th Dáil (1944)
Govt of the 13th Dáil (1948)
Govt of the 14th Dáil (1951)
Govt of the 15th Dáil (1954)

The 13th Dáil was elected at the 1948 general election on 4 February 1948 and first met on 18 February when the 5th Government of Ireland was appointed. The 13th Dáil lasted for 1,211 days.

The 5th Government of Ireland (18 February 1948–13 June 1951) - or more commonly the First Inter-Party Government - is the name given to the government which led Ireland from 1948 to 1951. The government was made up of a number of political parties including Fine Gael, the Labour Party, Clann na Poblachta, Clann na Talmhan and the National Labour Party - and one TD who was (at least in theory) an Independent - James Dillon (who had resigned from Fine Gael after opposing their neutral stance in World War II). It was the first change of government since 1932. The parties had many different aims and viewpoints, but a united dislike of Fianna Fáil overcame all difficulties in forming a government. The Cabinet was made up of representatives of all parties and ministers were given a great degree of independence. Some key events during the lifetime of the government include the declaration of the Republic of Ireland in 1949 and the crisis surrounding the "Mother and Child Scheme" in 1951.



Fianna Fáil had ruled uninterrupted since 1932 with Éamon de Valera as prime minister (titled as President of the Executive Council of the Irish Free State until 1937 and since then as Taoiseach). However, the 1948 general election left the party six seats short of a majority. Negotiations for confidence and supply with the National Labour Party failed when National Labour insisted on a formal coalition; at the time, Fianna Fáil would not enter coalitions with other parties.

At first, it seemed that de Valera would attempt to govern alone in a minority government. Fianna Fáil had 37 more seats than the next-biggest party, Fine Gael, and thus appeared to be the only party that could possibly form a government. However, to the surprise of most observers, the other parties realized that if they banded together, they would have only one seat fewer than Fianna Fáil, and would be able to form a government with the support of seven independents.

It was a foregone conclusion that in such a coalition, the Taoiseach would come from Fine Gael, since it was by far the second-largest party. However, Seán MacBride let it be known that he and his party, Clann na Poblachta, would not serve in a government headed by Fine Gael's leader, Richard Mulcahy. Many Irish Republicans had never forgiven Mulcahy for his role in carrying out 77 executions under the government of the Irish Free State in the 1920s during the Irish Civil War. Without MacBride, the other parties would have been nine seats short of the 74 they needed to topple de Valera. Accordingly Mulcahy bowed out in favour of former Attorney General John A. Costello.

On 18 February 1948 Costello was elected as the second Taoiseach of the Irish state, consigning de Valera to the opposition benches for the first time in 16 years. Costello found himself as leader of a disparate group of young and old politicians, republicans and Free Staters, conservatives and socialists. The government's survival depended on the skill of Costello as Taoiseach and the independence of various ministers.

5th Government of Ireland

Office Name Term Party
Taoiseach John A. Costello 1948–1951 Fine Gael
Tánaiste William Norton 1948–1951 Labour Party
Minister for Agriculture James Dillon 1948–1951 Independent[1]
Minister for Defence Thomas F. O'Higgins 1948–1951 Fine Gael
Minister for Education Richard Mulcahy 1948–1951 Fine Gael
Minister for External Affairs Seán MacBride 1948–1951 Clann na Poblachta
Minister for Finance Patrick McGilligan 1948–1951 Fine Gael
Minister for Health Noel Browne[2] 1948–1951 Clann na Poblachta
Minister for Industry and Commerce Daniel Morrissey 1948–1951 Fine Gael
Minister for Justice Seán Mac Eoin 1948–1951 Fine Gael
Minister for Lands Joseph Blowick 1948–1951 Clann na Talmhan
Minister for Local Government Timothy J. Murphy 1948–1949 Labour Party
Minister for Posts and Telegraphs James Everett 1948–1951 National Labour
Minister for Social Welfare William Norton 1948–1951 Labour Party

Changes 3 May 1949

Following the death of Timothy J. Murphy:

Office Name Term Party
Minister for Local Government William Norton (acting) Labour Party

Changes 11 May 1949

Following the death of Timothy J. Murphy:

Office Name Term Party
Minister for Local Government Michael Keyes 1949–1951 Labour Party

Changes 7 March 1951

Office Name Term Party
Minister for Justice Daniel Morrissey 1951 Fine Gael
Minister for Industry and Commerce Thomas F. O'Higgins 1951 Fine Gael
Minister for Defence Seán Mac Eoin 1951 Fine Gael

Changes 12 April 1951

Following the resignation of Noel Browne:

Office Name Term Party
Minister for Health John A. Costello (acting) Fine Gael

See also


  1. ^ James Dillon resigned from Fine Gael in 1942 over his opposition to neutrality and rejoined the party only in 1953; however, he remained closely associated with Fine Gael in the intervening period.
  2. ^ Noel Browne resigned on 11 April 1951 due to controversy surrounding the Mother and Child Scheme.


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