Fianna Fáil

The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.

Fianna Fáil

Fianna Fáil (fē´ənə fäl), Irish political party, organized in 1926 by opponents of the Anglo-Irish treaty of 1921 establishing the Irish Free State and setting up Northern Ireland as part of the United Kingdom. Led by Eamon De Valera, the party gained control of the government in 1932 and pursued a policy of complete political separation from Great Britain. Except for the years 1948–51 and 1954–57, it held power continuously until 1973, when it lost to an alliance of the Fine Gael and Labor parties. Fianna Fáil held power again under Jack Lynch (1977–79) and Charles Haughey (1979–81), but lost once more to the Fine Gael. After a brief return to power under Haughey in 1982, it remained in opposition until 1987, when it once again formed a government under Haughey (after 1989 in coalition with the Progressive Democrats). When scandal forced his resignation in 1992, Albert Reynolds succeeded him, heading a Fianna Fáil–Labor coalition. Reynolds resigned in 1994, and a Fine Gael–Labor coalition came to power. The party returned to power in 1997 under Bertie Ahern, in coalition with the Progressive Democrats until 2009 and with the Greens from 2007 to 2011. When Ahern resigned in 2008, Brian Cowen succeeded him as party leader and prime minister. Michael Martin became party leader in 2011, when Fianna Fáil placed third in an election held during a financial crisis. The party regained strength in 2016 and placed second, narrowly behind Fine Gael.

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