1990 Irish presidential election

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Irish presidential election, 1990

← 1983 7 November 1990 1997 →
Turnout64.1%
  Mary Robinson (2014).jpg No image.png Austin Currie 2014 (cropped).jpg
Nominee Mary Robinson Brian Lenihan Austin Currie
Party Labour Party Fianna Fáil Fine Gael
1st preference 612,265 (38.9%) 694,484 (44.1%) 267,902 (17.0%)
Final count 817,830 (51.9%) 731,273 (46.5%) Eliminated

President before election

Patrick Hillery
Fianna Fáil

Elected President

Mary Robinson
Labour Party

The Irish presidential election of 1990 was the tenth presidential election to be held in Ireland, the fifth to be contested by more than one candidate and the first to have a female candidate. It was held on Wednesday, 7 November 1990.

Nomination procedure[edit]

Under Article 12 of the Constitution of Ireland, a candidate for president could be nominated by:

  • at least twenty of the 226 serving members of the Houses of the Oireachtas, or
  • at least four of 31 county or city councils, or
  • a former or retiring president, on their own nomination.

Candidates[edit]

Brian Lenihan[edit]

Brian Lenihan, the Tánaiste and Minister for Defence was chosen by Fianna Fáil as their candidate, though he faced a late challenge for the party nomination from another senior minister, John Wilson. Lenihan was popular and widely seen as humorous and intelligent. He had delivered liberal policy reform, for example relaxed censorship in the 1960s.

Austin Currie[edit]

Fine Gael, after trying and failing to get former Taoiseach Garret FitzGerald and former Tánaiste Peter Barry to run, ultimately nominated the former Northern Ireland civil rights campaigner and SDLP member Austin Currie. Currie had been elected to the Dáil in the 1989 general election and had been a minister in Brian Faulkner's power-sharing executive in Northern Ireland from 1973–1974. However Currie had little experience in the politics of the Republic.

Mary Robinson[edit]

The Labour Party, along with the Workers' Party, nominated Mary Robinson, SC, a former Labour Party member and senator, and liberal campaigner. Robinson was a former Reid Professor of Law in the Trinity College Dublin. She was previously involved in the Campaign for Homosexual Law Reform and the campaign to save Wood Quay.

Campaign[edit]

Lenihan entered the race as odds-on favourite; no Fianna Fáil candidate had ever lost a presidential election. However Lenihan was derailed when he confirmed in an on-the-record interview with freelance journalist and academic researcher Jim Duffy that he had been involved in controversial attempts to pressurise President Patrick Hillery not to dissolve the Dáil in 1982. After the contrast between his public denials during the campaign and his eventual confirmation of his role during his earlier interview recorded in May the Progressive Democrats, then in coalition with Fianna Fáil, threatened to join an opposition motion of no confidence unless Lenihan was dismissed from the government or an inquiry into the 1982 events was set up. Taoiseach Charles Haughey privately asked Lenihan to resign, and sacked him on 31 October—a week before the election—when he refused to do so.

At this point Cabinet minister Pádraig Flynn launched a personal attack on Mary Robinson, accusing her as "having a new-found interest in her family", an attack that was itself attacked in response as "disgraceful" on live radio by Michael McDowell, a senior member of the Progressive Democrats, which up to that point had supported Lenihan's campaign. Flynn's attack was a fatal blow to Lenihan's campaign, causing many female supporters of Lenihan to vote for Robinson in a gesture of support.

Lenihan nonetheless received a plurality of first preference votes. Robinson received almost three times as many votes as Currie, and over 75 percent of Currie's votes transferred to Robinson, beating Lenihan into second place and electing Robinson as Ireland's first female president.

Result[edit]

Irish presidential election, 1990[1]
Candidate Nominated by % 1st Pref Count 1 Count 2
Mary Robinson Oireachtas: Labour Party and Workers' Party 38.9 612,265 817,830
Brian Lenihan Oireachtas: Fianna Fáil 44.1 694,484 731,273
Austin Currie Oireachtas: Fine Gael 17.0 267,902  
Electorate: 2,471,308   Valid: 1,574,651   Spoilt: 9,444 (0.6%)   Quota: 787,326   Turnout: 64.1%
First preference vote
Lenihan
44.1%
Robinson
38.9%
Currie
17.0%
Final percentage
Robinson
51.9%
Lenihan
46.5%

Results by constituency[edit]

First count votes[2]
Constituency Currie Lenihan Robinson
Votes % Votes % Votes %
Carlow–Kilkenny 9,941 18.8% 23,808 45.1% 19,054 36.1%
Cavan–Monaghan 10,049 21.2% 25,365 53.6% 11,923 25.2%
Clare 7,956 18.3% 21,669 50.0% 13,745 31.7%
Cork East 7,048 18.5% 16,928 44.4% 14,124 37.1%
Cork North-Central 6,038 15.5% 15,020 38.6% 17,832 45.9%
Cork North-West 8,414 27.7% 13,843 45.5% 8,162 26.8%
Cork South-Central 9,254 17.3% 18,176 33.9% 26,226 48.8%
Cork South-West 8,623 29.1% 11,957 40.4% 9,034 30.5%
Donegal North-East 3,958 17.1% 12,834 55.3% 6,397 27.6%
Donegal South-West 4,794 19.0% 13,344 53.0% 7,058 28.0%
Dublin Central 4,711 12.3% 17,855 46.7% 15,683 41.0%
Dublin North 3,931 11.4% 14,812 43.1% 15,637 45.5%
Dublin North-Central 4,752 12.7% 16,658 44.5% 16,064 42.8%
Dublin North-East 3,690 11.0% 13,939 41.3% 16,082 47.7%
Dublin North-West 2,795 10.1% 11,611 42.0% 13,240 47.9%
Dublin South 9,646 17.0% 17,948 31.7% 29,103 51.3%
Dublin South-Central 5,578 13.0% 16,847 39.4% 20,394 47.6%
Dublin South-East 5,528 16.6% 10,573 31.7% 17,262 51.7%
Dublin South-West 3,661 9.9% 15,340 41.7% 17,826 48.4%
Dublin West 6,439 13.4% 21,987 45.6% 19,772 41.0%
Dún Laoghaire 8,957 17.0% 14,974 28.4% 28,815 54.6%
Galway East 5,629 20.4% 13,883 50.4% 8,043 29.2%
Galway West 8,094 17.6% 18,885 41.1% 18,978 41.3%
Kerry North 5,192 17.2% 13,896 45.9% 11,155 36.9%
Kerry South 4,891 17.2% 14,230 50.0% 9,336 32.8%
Kildare 7,701 15.2% 21,388 42.2% 21,638 42.6%
Laois–Offaly 8,690 17.1% 25,635 50.4% 16,571 32.5%
Limerick East 7,498 17.6% 14,583 34.2% 20,527 48.2%
Limerick West 5,955 19.3% 16,055 51.2% 8,766 28.5%
Longford–Westmeath 7,716 18.7% 21,860 52.9% 11,741 28.4%
Louth 5,588 14.1% 20,134 50.8% 13,894 35.1%
Mayo East 5,023 18.7% 11,838 44.2% 9,947 37.1%
Mayo West 4,706 18.3% 12,114 47.1% 8,905 34.6%
Meath 8,174 16.7% 23,960 49.0% 16,818 34.3%
Roscommon 6,482 23.0% 14,454 51.3% 7,223 25.7%
Sligo–Leitrim 7,794 20.3% 18,917 49.3% 11,660 30.4%
Tipperary North 5,822 20.0% 14,373 49.4% 8,926 30.6%
Tipperary South 7,227 19.4% 17,317 46.4% 12,751 34.2%
Waterford 6,160 15.9% 17,236 44.5% 15,359 39.6%
Wexford 7,906 16.8% 21,790 46.5% 17,201 36.7%
Wicklow 5,891 14.1% 16,448 39.4% 19,393 46.5%
Total 267,902 17.0% 694,484 44.1% 612,265 38.9%
Second count result[2]
Constituency Lenihan Robinson
Votes % Votes %
Carlow–Kilkenny 25,103 48.4% 26,733 51.6%
Cavan–Monaghan 26,796 57.7% 19,664 42.3%
Clare 22,715 53.2% 20,004 46.8%
Cork East 17,836 47.8% 19,438 52.2%
Cork North-Central 15,934 41.6% 22,346 58.4%
Cork North-West 14,896 50.3% 14,711 49.7%
Cork South-Central 19,416 36.8% 33,301 63.2%
Cork South-West 13,084 45.6% 15,640 54.4%
Donegal North-East 13,384 59.4% 9,162 40.6%
Donegal South-West 13,915 56.5% 10,730 43.5%
Dublin Central 18,648 49.5% 19,042 50.5%
Dublin North 15,458 45.5% 18,563 54.5%
Dublin North-Central 17,394 47.1% 19,585 52.9%
Dublin North-East 14,537 43.7% 18,772 56.3%
Dublin North-West 12,059 44.2% 15,281 55.8%
Dublin South 19,330 34.7% 36,473 65.3%
Dublin South-Central 17,743 42.0% 24,517 58.0%
Dublin South-East 11,358 34.7% 21,418 65.3%
Dublin South-West 15,894 43.6% 20,573 56.4%
Dublin West 22,959 48.3% 24,668 51.7%
Dún Laoghaire 16,293 31.5% 35,527 68.5%
Galway East 14,486 53.4% 12,651 46.6%
Galway West 19,875 43.9% 25,472 56.1%
Kerry North 14,669 49.3% 15,096 50.7%
Kerry South 14,812 52.9% 13,238 47.1%
Kildare 22,493 45.1% 27,467 54.9%
Laois–Offaly 26,740 53.4% 23,397 46.6%
Limerick East 15,589 37.3% 26,235 62.7%
Limerick West 16,834 55.8% 13,380 44.2%
Longford–Westmeath 22,881 56.3% 17,795 43.7%
Louth 21,070 53.9% 18,053 46.1%
Mayo East 12,362 46.7% 14,162 53.3%
Mayo West 12,566 49.5% 12,845 50.5%
Meath 25,122 52.2% 23,037 47.8%
Roscommon 15,185 54.9% 12,495 45.1%
Sligo–Leitrim 19,906 52.7% 17,882 47.3%
Tipperary North 15,119 52.9% 13,483 47.1%
Tipperary South 18,299 50.2% 18,214 49.8%
Waterford 18,170 47.8% 19,880 52.2%
Wexford 22,990 49.9% 23,058 50.1%
Wicklow 17,353 42.2% 23,842 57.8%
Total 731,273 46.5% 817,830 51.9%

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Presidential Election November 1990". ElectionsIreland.org. Archived from the original on 17 February 2011. Retrieved 23 November 2009.
  2. ^ a b "Presidential Elections 1938–2011" (PDF). Department of the Environment, Community and Local Government. p. 32. Retrieved 18 September 2018.