Main Page | See live article | Alphabetical index

Irish presidential election, 1990

In the Irish presidential election in 1990 the Irish Labour Party let it be known that it would for the first time run a candidate. It chose as its candidate Mary Robinson, SC., a former senator and liberal campaigner. Fianna Fáil let it be known that it would run Án Tánaiste Brian Lenihan, TD, though he faced a late challenge for the party nomination from another senior minister, John Wilson, TD. Fine Gael, after trying and failing to get former Taoiseach Garret FitzGerald and former Tánaiste Peter Barry to run, it settled on new Fine Gael TD and former Social Democratic and Labour Party minister in Northern Ireland Austin Currie.

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 Hillery over a controversial parliamentary dissolution in 1982. When the contrast between his public denials during the campaign and his confirmation during his earlier interview (recorded in May) he was dismissed from the Irish government. In a shock outcome, Labour's Mary Robinson beat Austin Currie, forcing Fine Gael's candidate into a humiliating third place. Robinson then beat Lenihan on transfers on the second count, to become the seventh president of Ireland.

The results were as follows:

Candidate Party 1st Preference Share of Vote Status
Mary Robinson Labour 612,265 38.88% Made Quota
Brian Lenihan Fianna Fáil 694,484 44.10% Eliminated
Austin Currie Fine Gael 267,902 17.01% Eliminated

See also: