Government of the 13th Dáil
|5th Government of Ireland|
|Date formed||18 February 1948|
|Date dissolved||13 June 1951|
|People and organisations|
|Head of government||John A. Costello|
|Deputy head of government||William Norton|
|Head of state||Seán T. O'Kelly|
|Total number of ministers||12|
|Member parties||Fine Gael
Clann na Poblachta
Clann na Talmhan
National Labour Party
|Status in legislature||Coalition|
|Opposition leader||Éamon de Valera (Fianna Fáil)|
|Election(s)||1948 general election|
|Legislature term(s)||13th Dáil|
|Previous||4th Government of Ireland|
|Successor||6th Government of Ireland|
The 5th Government of Ireland (18 February 1948 – 13 June 1951) – or more commonly the First Inter-Party Government – is the name given to the government which led Ireland from 1948 to 1951. The government was made up of a number of political parties including Fine Gael, the Labour Party, Clann na Poblachta, Clann na Talmhan and the National Labour Party – and one TD who was (at least in theory) an independent – James Dillon (who had resigned from Fine Gael after opposing their neutral stance in World War II). It was the first change of government since 1932. The parties had many different aims and viewpoints, but a united dislike of Fianna Fáil overcame all difficulties in forming a government. The Cabinet was made up of representatives of all parties and ministers were given a great degree of independence. Some key events during the lifetime of the government include the declaration of the Republic of Ireland in 1949 and the crisis surrounding the "Mother and Child Scheme" in 1951.
Fianna Fáil had ruled uninterrupted since 1932 with Éamon de Valera as prime minister (titled as President of the Executive Council of the Irish Free State until 1937 and since then as Taoiseach). However, the 1948 general election left the party six seats short of a majority. Negotiations for confidence and supply with the National Labour Party failed when National Labour insisted on a formal coalition; at the time, Fianna Fáil would not enter coalitions with other parties. At first, it seemed that de Valera would attempt to govern alone in a minority government. Fianna Fáil had 37 more seats than the next-biggest party, Fine Gael, and thus appeared to be the only party that could possibly form a government.
However, to the surprise of most observers, the other parties realised that if they banded together, they would have only one seat fewer than Fianna Fáil, and would be able to form a government with the support of seven independents.
It was a foregone conclusion that Fine Gael would head such a coalition, since it was by far the second-largest party. Fine Gael's leader, Richard Mulcahy, thus appeared to have the inside track to becoming Taoiseach. However, Labour leader William Norton told Mulcahy that in all likelihood, Clann na Poblachta would not serve under Mulchahy. Clann na Poblachta's leader, Seán MacBride, and many other Republicans had never forgiven Mulcahy for his role in carrying out 77 executions under the government of the Irish Free State in the 1920s during the Irish Civil War. Without MacBride, the other parties would have been nine seats short of the 74 they needed to topple de Valera. Accordingly Mulcahy bowed out in favour of former Attorney General John A. Costello.
On 18 February 1948 Costello was appointed as the second Taoiseach of the Irish state on the nomination of the Dáil, consigning de Valera to the opposition benches for the first time in 16 years. Costello found himself as leader of a disparate group of young and old politicians, republicans and Free Staters, conservatives and socialists. The government survived, however, due to the skill of Costello as Taoiseach and the independence of various ministers.
5th Government of Ireland
- Members of the 13th Dáil
- Parliamentary Secretaries of the 13th Dáil
- Members of the 6th Seanad
- Dáil Éireann
- Constitution of Ireland
- Politics of the Republic of Ireland
- "History of Government – Thirteenth Dáil". Department of the Taoiseach. Retrieved 20 October 2013.
- James Dillon resigned from Fine Gael in 1942 over his opposition to neutrality and rejoined the party only in 1953; however, he remained closely associated with Fine Gael in the intervening period.
- Noël Browne resigned on 11 April 1951 due to controversy surrounding the Mother and Child Scheme.