What is the Taoiseach?

Leo Varadkar, the incumbent head of state of Ireland. Editorial credit: Alexandros Michailidis / Shutterstock.com.
Leo Varadkar, the incumbent head of state of Ireland. Editorial credit: Alexandros Michailidis / Shutterstock.com.

Taoiseach, the equivalent of a prime minister, is nominated by the lower house of the Oireachtas. The president of the Republic of Ireland officially appoints the nomination. The Taoiseach nominates the other members of government who are appointed by the government upon the consent of the Dail. He or she can advise the president to dismiss a cabinet minister. Taoiseach also appoints the 11 members of the Seanad. 

The First Heads Of State Of Ireland

Éamon de Valera

Éamon de Valera was an Irish statesman and politician who was born in 1882. He served for three terms as the head of government and state. Éamon de Valera led the country to the adoption of the Constitution of Ireland. He was a political leader in the War of Independence who began his involvement in politics in 1913. Éamon de Valera founded the Fianna Fail, a political movement in 1926 for which he became the President of the Executive Council (Taoiseach) for the three terms from 1932 to 1948, 1951 to 1954, and 1957 to 1959. 

John A. Costello

John A. Costello was a legal advisor to the government of the Irish Free State and the attorney general from 1926 to 1932. He also served as Ireland’s Taoiseach for two terms from 1948 to 1951 and 1954 to 1957. In 1948, Costello declared the intention by the Irish to exit the British Commonwealth leading to Ireland becoming a republic. 

Seán Lemass

Seán Lemass was a politician who was a Taoiseach from 1959 to 1966. He was a war veteran of the 1916 Easter Rising and the Civil War. Lemass became the Teachta Dala in the November 1924 by-election. Lemass served as the Minister of Industry and Commerce in almost all of the de Valera governments where he promoted state involvement in industry and led the country to economic recovery after the Great Depression. He also served as Minister for Supplies. 

Jack Lynch

Jack Lynch began as an interim Taoiseach, but he had no intention of stepping aside. He retained the members of the Lemass cabinet as part of his government and adopted a chairman-like approach, allowing the ministers to run their departments. He continued with much of his predecessor’s projects. In 1968, Lynch attempted a referendum to change the voting system in the country. However, this referendum was rejected by the opposition parties. 

The Incumbent Taoiseach Of Ireland

Leo Varadkar has been the Taoiseach since 2017. He is also a member of the Dáil Éireann, the Cabinet, the Council of State, and the European Council. 

Taoiseach - Prime Minister Of Ireland

Taoiseach of the Republic of IrelandTerm(s) in Office
Éamon de Valera1937-1948; 1951-1954; 1957-1959
John A. Costello1948-1951; 1954-1957
Seán Lemass1959-1966
Jack Lynch1966-1973; 1977-1979
Liam Cosgrave1973-1977
Charles Haughey1979-1981; March to December of 1982; 1987-1992
Garret FitzGerald1981-1982; 1982-1987
Albert Reynolds1992-1994
John Bruton1994-1997
Bertie Ahern1997-2008
Brian Cowen2008-2011
Enda Kenny (Incumbent)2011-2017
Leo Varadkar2017-

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