Lynch, Jack

The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.

Lynch, Jack

Jack Lynch (John Mary Lynch), 1917–99, Irish statesman. Before he embarked on his political career, he gained nationwide fame as an athlete, captaining several winning hurling teams in the 1930s and 40s. He studied law at University College in Cork and at the King's Inns in Dublin and was admitted to the bar in 1945. He entered the Dáil (parliament) in 1948 as a member of the Fianna Fáil party. Beginning in 1951, Lynch rose steadily in the government. He was minister for education (1957–59), for industry and commerce (1959–65), and for finance (1965–66). He demonstrated great ability as a mediator in major labor disputes and in 1966 was elected to succeed Sean F. Lemass as prime minister of the Republic of Ireland. Reelected in 1969, he became involved in a series of tense political disputes over his policy toward the escalating violence between Protestants and Roman Catholics in Northern Ireland. Lynch also led the republic into the European Community (now the European Union). His party was defeated in the 1973 election, but was returned to power in 1977; he served a second term as prime minister from 1977 to 1979.

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