Major Dates Previous Page    

[ 1940 AD - 2000 AD ]

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 parliament (Stormont).

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 Garret FitzGerald.

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 year.

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 Ireland.

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 1994. 

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 process.

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.

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