Independent politicians in Ireland

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Independent politicians, who contest elections without the support of one of the political parties, have played a continuous role in the politics of Ireland since independence in 1922.

Provision for independents in electoral law[edit]

If a candidate is not the candidate of a registered political party, they may be nominated for elections to Dáil Éireann with the assent of 30 electors in the constituency,[1] for elections to the European Parliament with the assent of 60 electors in the constituency,[2] and for local elections with the assent of 15 electors in the local electoral area.[3] They may choose to have the designation non-party next to their name on the ballot paper.[4]

In Seanad elections and presidential elections, candidates are not nominated by parties directly, and party labels do not appear on the ballot.

Independents supporting governments[edit]

In the case of minority governments, where the party or parties forming the government do not have a majority in the Dáil, they will usually be dependent on independent TDs in votes of confidence. This can be by formal arrangement with the government.

Independents in government[edit]

In the Inter-Party Government led by John A. Costello as Taoiseach, James Dillon served as Minister for Agriculture. He was an independent TD, having left Fine Gael in 1942 because he disagreed with the policy of neutrality during the Second World War. He rejoined Fine Gael in 1953 and became leader in 1959.

After the 2016 general election, 3 independent TDs were appointed to a minority Fine Gael–Independent government: Denis Naughten as Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment, Shane Ross as Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport, and Katherine Zappone as Minister for Children and Youth Affairs. Ross is a member of the Independent Alliance, and other members of the Independent Alliance were appointed as Ministers of State. Naughten resigned as Minister on 11 October 2018.

In 2009, Mary Harney continued as Minister for Health as an independent member of the government after the dissolution of the Progressive Democrats, and served until 2011.

Local government[edit]

At the 2019 local elections, independents won 185 of the 949 seats on city and county councils.

European Parliament[edit]

Luke 'Ming' Flanagan has been an MEP for Midlands–North-West since 2014.

President of Ireland[edit]

The current President of Ireland Michael D. Higgins was elected in 2011 as a Labour Party candidate, but re-elected in 2018 as an independent candidate.

Election results[edit]

General elections[edit]

Key for government column:

Independents participated in government
Majority government
Minority government
Election Seats won ± First Pref votes % Government
1921
4 / 128
Southern Ireland only
Steady No Poll No Poll Sinn Féin majority
1922
9 / 128
Increase 5 48,638 7.8 CnaG minority
1923
13 / 153
Increase 4 85,869 8.1 CnaG minority
1927 (Jun)
16 / 153
Increase 3 153,370 13.4 CnaG minority
1927 (Sep)
12 / 153
Decrease4 92,959 7.9 CnaG minority
1932
14 / 153
Increase2 131,890 10.4 FF minority
1933
9 / 153
Decrease 5 68,882 5.0 FF minority
1937
8 / 138
Decrease 1 128,480 9.7 FF minority
1938
7 / 138
Decrease 1 60,685 4.7 FF majority
1943
11 / 138
Increase4 116,024 8.7 FF minority
1944
10 / 138
Decrease 1 94,852 7.8 FF majority
1948
11 / 147
Increase 1 94,271 7.2 FG–Lab–CnP–CnT–NLP–Ind
1951
14 / 147
Increase 3 127,234 9.6 FF minority
1954
5 / 147
Decrease 9 70,937 5.3 FG–Lab–CnT
1957
9 / 147
Increase 4 72,492 5.9 FF majority
1961
6 / 144
Decrease 3 65,963 5.6 FF minority
1965
2 / 144
Decrease 4 26,277 2.1 FF minority
1969
1 / 144
Decrease 1 42,230 3.2 FF majority
1973
2 / 144
Increase 1 39,419 2.9 FG–Labour
1977
4 / 148
Increase 2 87,527 5.5 FF majority
1981
4 / 166
Steady 63,829 3.7 FG–Labour minority
1982 (Feb)
4 / 166
Steady 46,059 2.8 FF minority
1982 (Nov)
3 / 166
Decrease 1 38,735 2.3 FG–Labour
1987
3 / 166
Steady 70,843 4.0 FF minority
1989
4 / 166
Increase 1 54,761 3.3 FF–PD
1992
5 / 166
Increase 1 99,487 5.8 FF–Lab (1993–94)
FG–Lab–DL (1994–97)
1997
6 / 166
Increase 1 123,102 7.9 Minority FF–PD
2002
17 / 166
Increase 11 176,305 9.5 FF–PD
2007
5 / 166
Decrease 12 106,429 5.2 FF–Green–PD
2011
14 / 166
Increase 9 269,703 12.1 FG–Labour
2016
19 / 158
Increase 5 338,215 15.9 FG–Ind minority

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Electoral (Amendment) Act 2002, Section 1, Amendment of Electoral Act 1992". Irish Statute Book. 25 March 2002. Retrieved 13 July 2019.
  2. ^ "Electoral (Amendment) Act 2002, Section 2, Amendment of European Parliament Elections Act 1997". Irish Statute Book. 25 March 2002. Retrieved 13 July 2019.
  3. ^ "Electoral (Amendment) Act 2002, Section 3, Amendment of Local Elections Regulations 1995". Irish Statute Book. 25 March 2002. Retrieved 13 July 2019.
  4. ^ "Electoral Act 1992, Section 46, Nomination of Candidates". Irish Statute Book. 5 November 1992. Retrieved 13 July 2019.

Further reading[edit]

  • Weeks, Liam (2017). Independents in Irish party democracy. Manchester University Press. ISBN 9780719099601.