9 March 1932: Eamon de Valera was elected President of the Executive Council of the Irish Free State in Leinster House on this day. It is believed that that he and his fellow deputies in Fianna Fáil entered the House with revolvers in their pockets, such was their distrust of their ex Civil War opponents in Cosgrave’s defeated Government. They had deep suspicions that a coup d’etat would be attempted by disaffected elements in the Free State Army who would not allow a changeover to take place. But in the event everything went smoothly and parliamentary forms were observed to the letter by all sides.
Of the TDs assembled that day 81 deputies voted in favour of his election and 68 against the motion. De Valera was five seats short of an overall majority but William Norton, leader of the Labour Party committed his seven parliamentary colleagues in ensuring that Dev was elected the President. Cumann na nGaedhael under W.T. Cosgrave, the Farmers Party under Michael Heffernan and most of the Independents voted against his election.
After thanking the House de Valera proposed his Cabinet as follows:
The President himself, in charge of the Department of External Affairs;
Deputy Seán T. O'Kelly, Vice-President, in charge of the Department of Local Government and Public Health;
Deputy Patrick J. Ruttledge, in charge of the Department of Lands and Fisheries;
Deputy Seán F. Lemass, in charge of the Department of Industry and Commerce;
Deputy Seán MacEntee, in charge of the Department of Finance;
Deputy James Ryan, in charge of the Department of Agriculture
Deputy Frank Aiken, in charge of the Department of Defence
Deputy Thomas Derrig, in charge of the Department of Education
Deputy James Geoghegan, in charge of the Department of Justice
Senator Joseph Connolly, in charge of the Department of Posts and Telegraphs
To avoid political embarrassment the Governor General James McNeill came in person to Leinster House to officially announce the result. This was to avoid Dev himself having to make the trip out to the Vice Regal Lodge in the Phoenix Park – which was still seen as a symbol of the old Imperial Regime by his supporters.
Eamon de Valera was to remain in power for the next 16 years until he was defeated in the 1948 General Election.