By convention, the Leader of the Opposition is the leader of the largest party not in government. Historically the two largest parties have nearly always been Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael, and so the position of Leader of the Opposition has alternated between them. However, immediately following Irish secession from the UK in 1922, the leader of the Labour Party acted as Leader of the Opposition as Sinn Féin, and later Fianna Fáil, refused to take their seats in Dáil Éireann. After the 2011 general election Fine Gael became the largest party in Dáil Éireann and the Labour Party for the first time became the second largest. However since Labour and Fine Gael entered a coalition government, the third largest party which is Fianna Fáil, leads the opposition in the 31st Dáil.
The Leader of the Opposition does not have an official role, as most of the post's functions are honorific, ceremonial and nominal. He is sometimes seen as the alternative Taoiseach to the present incumbent, and heads an alternative government known as the Front Bench, however, all the other non-government parties also have their own front benches.
Since March 2011 a Fine Gael-Labour Party coalition occupies the government benches of the Dáil chamber. The Opposition side of the house consists of Fianna Fáil (20 seats), Sinn Féin (14 seats), and Independent TDs and others.