Irish general election, 1961
|Percentage of seats gained by each of the five biggest parties, and number of seats gained by smaller parties and independents.|
The Irish general election of 1961 was held on 4 October 1961, just over three weeks after the dissolution of the Dáil on 8 September. The newly elected members of the 17th Dáil assembled at Leinster House on 11 October when the new Taoiseach and government were appointed.
The general election took place in 38 parliamentary constituencies throughout Ireland for 144 seats in the lower house of parliament, Dáil Éireann which had been reduced in size by three seats from the previous election.
The general election of 1961 saw the three main parties being led by three new leaders. Seán Lemass had taken charge of Fianna Fáil in 1959. It was also the first time Fianna Fáil faced a general election campaign without Éamon de Valera. James Dillon took over at Fine Gael in 1959 also, while the Labour Party was now under the leadership of Brendan Corish.
While the election was caused by the "crisis" surrounding Ireland's application for membership of the European Economic Community and various other international affairs, little attention was paid to these matters during the campaign. While the 1961 general election has become known as the dullest campaign on record, with the most important issue being the teaching of the Irish language in schools. Fianna Fáil were fighting the election on their record in government and a reforming theme, Fine Gael presented itself as the party of free enterprise. The Labour Party campaigned strongly against the "conservative" Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael parties. It also favoured major expansion in the public sector. It was the first and only general election for the new National Progressive Democrats party led by Noël Browne.
|Party||Leader||Seats||±|| % of
|Fianna Fáil||Seán Lemass||70||–8||48.6||512,073||43.8||–4.5|
|Fine Gael||James Dillon||47||+7||32.6||374,099||32.0||+5.4|
|Labour Party||Brendan Corish||16||+4||11.1||136,111||11.6||+2.5|
|Sinn Féin||Paddy McLogan||0||–4||0||36,396||3.1||–2.2|
|Clann na Talmhan||Joseph Blowick||2||–1||1.4||17,693||1.5||–0.9|
|Clann na Poblachta||Seán MacBride||1||0||0.7||13,170||1.1||–0.6|
|National Progressive Democrats||Noël Browne||2||New||1.4||11,490||1.0||–|
|Christian Democratic Party||0||New||0||1,132||0.1||–|
|Irish Workers' League||0||New||0||277||0.0||–|
- Fianna Fáil minority government formed.
The opposition parties gained ground on Fianna Fáil, while Sinn Féin failed to defend the four seats it had won in the previous election.
First time TDs
- Lorcan Allen
- Mark Clinton
- George Colley
- Patrick Connor
- Paddy Harte
- Brian Lenihan
- Tom O'Donnell
- Séamus Pattison
- Eugene Timmons
- Seán Treacy
- Paddy Belton (May 1963)
- Terence Boylan (February 1964)
- Sheila Galvin (February 1964)
- Joan Burke (July 1964)
- John Donnellan (December 1964)
- Eileen Desmond (March 1965)
- Batt Donegan (Lost seat)
- Patrick Giles (Retired)
- Gus Healy (Lost seat)
- Denis Larkin (Lost seat)
- Frank Loughman (Lost seat)
- Peadar Maher (Retired)
- James O'Toole (Lost seat)
- Oscar Traynor (Retired)
- "17th Dáil 1961 General Election". ElectionsIreland.org. Retrieved 30 May 2009.
- "Dáil elections since 1918". ARK Northern Ireland. Retrieved 30 May 2009.
- Nohlen, D & Stöver, P (2010) Elections in Europe: A data handbook, pp1009-1017 ISBN 978-3-8329-5609-7
- After the election, while Seán MacBride was leader of Clann na Poblachta, Joseph Barron became leader and the sole member of the parliamentary party.