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The Tánaiste ( ; plural: Tánaistí ), or, more formally, An Tánaiste, is the deputy prime minister of Irelandmarker. The Taoiseach nominates a member of the government to the position of Tánaiste. The current Tánaiste is Mary Coughlan, TD. Tánaiste was originally the Irish word for the heir of the chief (taoiseach) or king (), under the Gaelic system of tanistry. Before independence, the British Viceroy was sometimes referred to in the Irish language as An Tánaiste-Ri, literally 'the deputy king'.

Overview

The office was created in the 1937 Constitution of Ireland, replacing the previous office of Vice-President of the Executive Council that had existed under the Free State constitution.The Tánaiste acts in the place of the Taoiseach during his or her temporary absence, and, until a successor has been appointed, in the event of the Taoiseach's death or permanent incapacitation. The Tánaiste must be a member of Dáil Éireann, and is ex-officio a member of the Council of State. The Tánaiste would usually chair meetings of the government if the Taoiseach is absent or take questions on his behalf in the Dáil or Seanad.

Aside from these duties, the title is largely honorific in practice. The constitution does not give the Tánaiste specific powers other than deputising for the Taoiseach. Under a coalition government the position is commonly held by the leader of the second-largest party who in this situation is free to head any department he or she wants. Recent Tánaistí, such as Michael McDowell, Mary Harney and Dick Spring, have been leaders of smaller parties. In a single-party government the Tánaiste is often an 'elder statesman' holding one of the less important ministerial portfolios.

List of Tánaistí

Name Picture Entered office Left office Political party Other ministerial offices held while in post Subsequent higher offices held
Seán T. O'Kelly

29 December 1937 14 June 1945 Fianna Fáil Minister for Local Government and Public Health (1937–39)
Minister for Education (1939)
Minister for Finance (1939–45)

President of Ireland (1945–59)
Seán Lemass
(1st term of 3)
14 June 1945 18 February 1948 Fianna Fáil Minister for Supplies (1945)
Minister for Industry and Commerce (1945–48)
Taoiseach (1959–66)
William Norton
(1st term of 2)
18 February 1948 13 June 1951 Labour Party Minister for Social Welfare (1948–51)
Seán Lemass
(2nd term of 3)
13 June 1951 2 June 1954 Fianna Fáil Minister for Industry and Commerce (1951–54) Taoiseach (1959–66)
William Norton
(2nd term of 2)
2 June 1954 20 March 1957 Labour Party Minister for Industry and Commerce (1954–57)
Seán Lemass
(3rd term of 3)
20 March 1957 23 June 1959 Fianna Fáil Minister for Industry and Commerce (1957–59) Taoiseach (1959–66)
Seán MacEntee 23 June 1959 21 April 1965 Fianna Fáil Minister for Health (1959–65)
Frank Aiken 21 April 1965 2 July 1969 Fianna Fáil Minister for External Affairs (1965–69)
Erskine H. Childers 2 July 1969 14 March 1973 Fianna Fáil Minister for Health (1969–73) President of Ireland (1973–74)
Brendan Corish 14 March 1973 5 July 1977 Labour Party Minister for Health (1973–77)
George Colley 5 July 1977 30 June 1981 Fianna Fáil Minister for Finance (1977–79)
Minister for Tourism and Transport (1979–80)
Minister for Energy (1980–81)

Michael O'Leary 30 June 1981 9 March 1982 Labour Party Minister for Energy (1981–82)
Ray MacSharry 9 March 1982 14 December 1982 Fianna Fáil Minister for Finance (1982)
Dick Spring
(1st term of 3)
14 December 1982 20 January 1987 Labour Party Minister for the Environment (1982–83)
Minister for Energy (1983–87)
Peter Barry 20 January 1987 10 March 1987 Fine Gael Minister for Foreign Affairs (1987)
Brian Lenihan 10 March 1987 31 October 1990 Fianna Fáil Minister for Foreign Affairs (1987–89)
Minister for Defence (1989–90)
John Wilson 13 November 1990 12 January 1993 Fianna Fáil Minister for the Marine (1990–1992)
Minister for Defence (1992–93)
Dick Spring
(2nd term of 3)
12 January 1993 17 November 1994 Labour Party Minister for Foreign Affairs (1993–94)
Bertie Ahern 19 November 1994 15 December 1994 Fianna Fáil Minister for Finance (1994) Taoiseach (1997–2008)
Dick Spring
(3rd term of 3)
15 December 1994 26 June 1997 Labour Party Minister for Foreign Affairs (1994–97)
Mary Harney 26 June 1997 13 September 2006 Progressive Democrats Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment (1997–2004)
Minister for Health and Children (2004–06)
Michael McDowell 13 September 2006 14 June 2007 Progressive Democrats Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform (2002–07)
Brian Cowen 14 June 2007 7 May 2008 Fianna Fáil Minister for Finance (2007–08) Taoiseach (2008–)
Mary Coughlan 7 May 2008 Incumbent Fianna Fáil Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment (2008–)


Footnotes

  1. Retaining the Irish definite article an instead of English the.


See also




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