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1997 · members Republic of Ireland members · 2007
Irish general election, 2002
165 of 166 seats in Dáil Éireann
17 May 2002
First party Second party Third party
Ruairi Quinn.jpg
Leader Bertie Ahern Michael Noonan Ruairi Quinn
Party Fianna Fáil Fine Gael Labour Party
Leader since 1994 2001 1997
Leader's seat Dublin Central Limerick East Dublin South East
Last election 77 seats, 39.3% 54 seats, 27.9% 21 seats, 12.9%
Seats won 81 31 20
Seat change +8 –23 –1
Popular vote 770,800 417,700 200,100
Percentage 41.5% 22.5% 10.8%
Swing +2.2% –5.4% –2.1%
Fourth party Fifth party Sixth party
Harney Dublin Castle 14 06 2008.png Trevor Sargent.jpg Gerry Adams Easter Lily Badge.jpg
Leader Mary Harney Trevor Sargent Gerry Adams
Party Progressive Democrats Green Party Sinn Féin
Leader since 1993 2001 1983
Leader's seat Dublin South West Dublin North N/A
Last election 4 seats, 4.7% 2 seats, 2.8% 1 seat, 2.6%
Seats won 8 6 5
Seat change +4 +4 +4
Popular vote 73,600 71,500 121,000
Percentage 4.0% 3.8% 6.5%
Swing –0.7% +1.0% +3.9%

Incumbent Taoiseach
Bertie Ahern
Fianna Fáil

Bertie Ahern
Fianna Fáil

The Irish general election of 2002 was held on Friday, 17 May 2002 just over three weeks after the dissolution of the 28th Dáil on Thursday 25 April by President Mary McAleese, at the request of the Taoiseach, Bertie Ahern. The newly elected members of the 29th Dáil assembled on Thursday 6 June 2002.

The general election took place in 42 parliamentary constituencies throughout Ireland for 165 seats in the lower house of parliament, Dáil Éireann.



The general election was significant for a number of reasons:

  • The election was considered a success for Fianna Fáil, with the party coming within a handful of seats from achieving an overall majority. The only high-profile loss was Mary O'Rourke losing her seat in Westmeath.
  • The re-election of the Fianna FáilProgressive Democrats government, the first occasion since 1969 when an Irish government won re-election.
  • The meltdown in Fine Gael support, which saw the main opposition party drop from 54 to 31 seats, and lose all but three seats in Dublin.
  • The failure of the Labour Party, contrary to all expectations, to increase its seat total. Later in the year, Ruairi Quinn stepped down as leader of the Labour Party. He was replaced by Pat Rabbitte. The most high-profile loss for the party was the defeat of former leader Dick Spring in Kerry.
  • The success of the Green Party, which increased its TDs from two to six, including its first Teachta Dála (TD) outside of the capital, Dublin.
  • The electoral success of Sinn Féin, which increased its seat number from one to five.
  • The election of a large number of independent candidates. Many of these candidates, however, were former members of Fianna Fáil or Fine Gael.
  • Contrary to what opinion polls and political pundits were predicting, the Progressive Democrats kept all of their seats, and picked up four more.
  • It was the first time electronic voting machines were used in an Irish election. They were used in three constituencies: Meath, Dublin West and Dublin North.

The 2002 election results provided little comfort for those who wished to see an alternative government and in the event the Fianna Fáil–Progressive Democrats coalition survived a full term.

Fine Gael

The most noticeable feature of the election was the collapse in Fine Gael's vote. It suffered its second worst electoral result ever (after the 1948 General Election), with several prominent members failing to get re-elected, including:

The party's losses were especially pronounced in Dublin, where just three TDs were returned. This meant it won fewer seats than Fianna Fáil, Labour, Progressive Democrats or the Greens in Dublin. The reasons for the drop support for Fine Gael are varied:

  • There was an element of bad luck in some losses, and the proportion of seats they lost (42.6%) was much greater than the proportion of votes (5.2%).
  • In 2002, the Irish economy was booming, unemployment was low, and the outgoing government was a stable one that had lasted its full term. These factors explain why the two largest opposition parties, Fine Gael and the Labour Party performed poorly.
  • No other opposition party, noticeably Labour, would agree to a pre-election pact with Fine Gael, sensing the unpopularity of the party. This meant that no-one felt that Fine Gael would be able to lead a government after the election. In contrast, the two parties of the outgoing government fought the election on a united front.
  • The Fine Gael party was poorly organised in Dublin, and morale was low.
  • The political landscape has changed in Ireland since Fine Gael's heyday in the 1980's. The Progressive Democrats and the Green Party in particular have eaten into Fine Gael's middle class support, and anti-Fianna Fáil voters now have a much wider range of parties to choose from. All 4 of the extra seats won by the Green Party were at the expense of Fine Gael, as were 3 out of 4 of the Progressive Democrats' gains.
  • Toward the end of the campaign, Michael McDowell warned that because Fianna Fáil were so high in the opinion polls, they could form a government by themselves. This led to a significant shift to the Progressive Democrats at the last minute, and many Fine Gael voters voted strategically for the Progressive Democrats to avoid a single-party Fianna Fáil government.

In the immediate aftermath of the election, Fine Gael leader Michael Noonan announced his resignation from the leadership and Enda Kenny was chosen as the new leader in the subsequent election.


29th Irish general election – 17 May 2002[1]
Party Leader Seats ±  % of seats First Pref votes  % FPv ±%
Fianna Fáil Bertie Ahern 81 +8 48.8 770,800 41.5 +2.2
Fine Gael Michael Noonan 31 –23 18.7 417,700 22.5 –5.4
Labour Party Ruairi Quinn 20 –1 12.7 200,100 10.8 –2.1
Progressive Democrats Mary Harney 8 +4 4.8 73,600 4.0 –0.7
Green Party Trevor Sargent 6 +4 3.6 71,500 3.8 +1.0
Sinn Féin Gerry Adams 5 +4 3.0 121,000 6.5 +3.9
Socialist Party Joe Higgins 1 N/A 0.6 14,900 0.8 +0.1
Others N/A 0 ±0 0 12,100 0.7 –1.5
Independent N/A 13 +7 7.8 176,300 9.5 +2.6
Ceann Comhairle N/A 1 N/A 0.6 N/A N/A N/A
Total 166 0 100 1,858,100 100

All 1997 Labour Party figures include Democratic Left totals

Dáil membership changes

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

  • 23 outgoing TDs retired.
  • 142 TDs stood for re-election.
    • 110 of those were re-elected.
    • 32 failed to be re-elected.
  • 55 successor TDs were elected
    • 47 were elected for the first time.
    • 8 had previously been TDs.
  • There were 6 successor female TDs, increasing the total number by 1 to 22.

Outgoing TDs are listed in the constituency they constested in the election. For some, such as Marian McGennis, this differs from the constituency they repreprested in the outgoing Dáil. Where more than one change took place in a constituency the concept of successor is an approximation for presentation only.

Constituency Departing TD Change Successor TD Comment
Carlow–Kilkenny John Browne (FG) Retired M. J. Nolan (FF) Nolan – Former TD
Cavan–Monaghan Andrew Boylan (FG) Lost seat Paudge Connolly (Ind)
Clare Brendan Daly (FF) Lost seat James Breen (Ind)
Donal Carey (FG) Lost seat Pat Breen (FG)
Cork East Paul Bradford (FG) Lost seat Joe Sherlock (LAB) Sherlock – Former TD
Cork North Central Liam Burke (FG) Retired Kathleen Lynch (LAB) Lynch – Former TD
Cork North West Michael Creed (FG) Lost seat Gerard Murphy (FG)
Cork South Central Deirdre Clune (FG) Lost seat Dan Boyle (GP)
Cork South West P. J. Sheehan (FG) Lost seat Denis O'Donovan (FF)
Donegal North East Harry Blaney (Ind. FF) Retired Niall Blaney (Ind. FF)
Donegal South West Thomas Gildea (Ind) Retired Pat "the Cope" Gallagher (FF) Gallagher – Former TD
Dublin Central Jim Mitchell (FG) Lost seat Dermot Fitzpatrick (FF) Mitchell – FG Deputy Leader. Fitzpatrick – Former TD
Joe Costello (LAB) Former TD (took McGennis' seat)
Dublin Mid West Austin Currie (FG) Lost seat Paul Gogarty (GP) Currie – Former Presidential candidate
John Curran (FF) New constituency, new seat
Dublin North Nora Owen (FG) Lost seat Jim Glennon (FF) Owen – Former Minister for Justice
Dublin North Central Derek McDowell (LAB) Lost seat Finian McGrath (Ind)
Dublin North East Michael Joe Cosgrave (FG) Lost seat Seats reduced from 4 to 3
Dublin North West Proinsias De Rossa (LAB) Retired Seats reduced from 4 to 3
Dublin South Alan Shatter (FG) Lost seat Eamon Ryan (GP) Shatter – Fine Gael Front Bench member
Dublin South Central Ben Briscoe (FF) Retired Michael Mulcahy (FF)
Marian McGennis (FF) Lost seat Aengus Ó Snodaigh (SF) McGennis prev held Dublin Central
Dublin South East Frances Fitzgerald (FG) Lost seat Michael McDowell (PD) McDowell – Former TD
Dublin South West Brian Hayes (FG) Lost seat Seán Crowe (SF)
Chris Flood (FF) Retired Charlie O'Connor (FF)
Dublin West Liam Lawlor (Ind) Retired Joan Burton (LAB) Burton – Former TD
Dún Laoghaire David Andrews (FF) Retired Barry Andrews (FF)
Seán Barrett (FG) Retired Fiona O'Malley (PD)
Monica Barnes (FG) Retired Ciarán Cuffe (GP)
Galway East Michael P. Kitt (FF) Lost seat Joe Callanan (FF)
Ulick Burke (FG) Lost seat Paddy McHugh (Ind)
Limerick West Michael Finucane (FG) Lost seat John Cregan (FF)
Galway West Bobby Molloy (PD) Retired Noel Grealish (PD)
Kerry North Denis Foley (Ind) Retired Tom McEllistrim (FF)
Dick Spring (LAB) Lost seat Martin Ferris (SF) Spring – Former Leader of the Labour Party
Kildare South Alan Dukes (FG) Lost seat Seán Ó Fearghaíl (FF) Dukes – Former Leader of Fine Gael
Laois–Offaly Tom Enright (FG) Retired Olwyn Enright (FG)
Charles Flanagan (FG) Lost seat Tom Parlon (PD)
Limerick East Desmond O'Malley (PD) Retired Tim O'Malley (PD)
Eddie Wade (FF) Retired Peter Power (FF)
Longford–Roscommon Seán Doherty (FF) Retired Michael Finneran (FF)
Louis Belton (FG) Lost seat Mae Sexton (PD)
Albert Reynolds (FF) Retired Peter Kelly (FF) Reynolds – Former Taoiseach
Louth Brendan McGahon (FG) Retired Fergus O'Dowd (FG)
Michael Bell (LAB) Lost seat Arthur Morgan (SF)
Mayo Jim Higgins (FG) Lost seat Jerry Cowley (Ind) Higgins – Former Chief Whip
Tom Moffatt (FF) Lost seat John Carty (FF)
Meath John V. Farrelly (FG) Lost seat Damien English (FG)
Sligo–Leitrim Matt Brennan (FF) Retired Jimmy Devins (FF)
Gerry Reynolds (FG) Lost seat Marian Harkin (Ind)
Tipperary North Michael O'Kennedy (FF) Retired Máire Hoctor (FF)
Waterford Austin Deasy (FG) Retired John Deasy (FG)
Brendan Kenneally (FF) Lost seat Ollie Wilkinson (FF)
Westmeath Mary O'Rourke (FF) Lost seat Donie Cassidy (FF)
Wexford Hugh Byrne (FF) Lost seat Tony Dempsey (FF)
Michael D'Arcy (FG) Lost seat Liam Twomey (Ind)
Ivan Yates (FG) Retired Paul Kehoe (FG)

A summary of the cross-party seat transfers is:

Lost by To Seats Won by From Seats
Fine Gael (23) Fianna Fáil 7 Fianna Fáil (9) Fine Gael 7
Progressive Democrats 4 Independent 2
Sinn Féin 1 Independent (7) Fine Gael 5
Independent 5 Labour 1
Labour 2 Fianna Fáil 1
Green Party 4 Progressive Democrats (4) Fine Gael 4
Labour (3) Sinn Féin 2 Sinn Féin (4) Fine Gael 1
Independent 1 Labour 2
Independent (3) Fianna Fáil 2 Fianna Fáil 1
Labour 1 Green Party (4) Fine Gael 4
Fianna Fáil (2) Sinn Féin 1 Labour (3) Fine Gael 2
Independent 1 Independent 1


See also

Further reading

  • Mitchell, Paul (April 2003). "Fianna Fáil still dominant in the coalition era: The Irish general election of May 2002". West European Politics 26 (2): 174–183.  


External links



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