Fianna Fáil defeated in general election, replaced by a coalition
led by Fine Gael.
On April 18, Éire became the Republic of Ireland, under legislation
passed the previous November, and left the Commonwealth. In May
the British parliament confirmed that there would be no change in
the status of Northern Ireland without the consent of the province's
The Republic of Ireland became a member of the United Nations.
Fianna Fáil returned to power.
De Valera, aged 77, elected president.
The purchase or holding of arms for use outside of Ireland was banned;
the following year the government required the surrender of all
firearms. These moves were aimed particularly against the Provisional
IRA, a radical wing that had split from the Official IRA and escalated
the use of terrorism both inside and outside the republic.
The retirement of De Valera from the presidency. He was replaced
by Erskine Childers. Ireland joined the European Community. Fine
Gael/Labour Party coalition takes place after election.
Death of De Valera.
Fianna Fáil returned to power under leadership of John Lynch, who
held the post until 1979, when he was replaced by Charles Haughey.
Economic problems helped precipitate a number of short-lived governments,
with Haughey alternating as prime minister with Fine Gael leader
In November, FitzGerald signed the Anglo-Irish Agreement, which
recognised that no change could occur in Northern Ireland's status
without the consent of the majority of the population, and gave
the Irish government a consultative role in Northern Irish affairs.
Mary Robinson was elected president.
The Republic of Ireland was one of the signatories of the Maastricht
Treaty on European Union, after securing a special provision guaranteeing
that the country's abortion laws would not be affected by European
Union policies. The treaty was ratified by referendum the following
Haughey resigned as prime minister and leader of Fianna Fáil amid
allegations of scandal. He was succeeded by former Finance Minister
Albert Reynolds. Elections in November left the Labour Party holding
the balance of power, as partner in a coalition government with
Fianna Fáil. A parallel referendum approved proposals to make abortion
information available in Ireland and to legalise foreign travel
to obtain an abortion.
December 15, Reynolds and British Prime Minister John Major signed
the Downing Street Declaration, a statement of fundamental principles
with regard to the future of the province-notably that any constitutional
change requires the consent of a majority of the people of Northern
Fianna Fáil-led coalition collapsed after the Labour Party withdrew
its support. A Fine Gael-led coalition replaced it after a month
of negotiations, led by John Bruton, and with the Labour Party holding
important government positions.
A bill to legalise the provision of abortion information was passed
by both houses of parliament. A referendum on the legalisation of
divorce ended the constitutional ban on divorce. The joint peace
process framework for Northern Ireland was launched by the Irish
and British governments, following the IRA's cease-fire in August
In February the IRA ended it's cease-fire with the explosion of
a large bomb in London's Docklands, leading to the exclusion of
Sinn Féin from all-party talks and an impasse in the peace
In parliamentary elections the Fianna Fáil party won 77 out of 166
seats and was expected to form a coalition government with Bertie
Ahern as Taoiseach.
Ahern, along with British prime minister Tony Blair, signed the
Northern Ireland Peace Agreement in April. A referendum held in
May resulted in a 94 per cent "yes" vote in favour of
the agreement. Articles 2 and 3 of the Irish constitution were amended.