Wednesday, 9 March 2016

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.

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.

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