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Albert Reynolds

Prime Minister, 1992-1994

Albert Reynolds

Albert Reynolds was born in Rooskey, County Roscommon, on November 3, 1932, and was educated at Summerhill College. After spending his early working career as a clerk in the state transport service, Reynolds became a businessman in the 1960s, and earned millions operating a string of ballrooms. He increased his net worth with a dog food business, a newspaper, and a variety of other businesses. Reynolds became president of the Longford Chamber of Commerce in 1974, and served in that capacity through 1978. He was also elected to the Longford County Council in 1974, and served in that capacity until 1979.

Reynolds' career in national politics began in 1977, when he was elected to the Dáil Éireann (Parliament) as a member of the Fianna Fáil party. After Charles Haughey became Prime Minister, Reynolds served as Minister for Post and Telegraph and Minister for Transport (1979-1981), and as Minister for Industry and Commerce (1982). The Haughey government lost power in 1982, and Reynolds spent the next few years as an opposition leader, with emphasis on issues related to industry, employment, and energy.

Fianna Fáil regained a majority in Parliament, and Haughey reassumed the Prime Ministership, in 1987. Reynolds subsequently served as Minister for Industry and Commerce (1987-1988) and Minister for Finance (1988-1991). He resigned from the latter position after an unsuccessful challenge for the party leadership.

Reynolds became party leader upon the resignation of Haughey in February 1992, and served as interim Prime Minister until November. The Fianna Fáil lost nine seats in the November elections, but Reynolds was able to retain the Prime Ministership after forming a coalition government with the Labour Party.

The principal accomplishment of Reynolds' administration was the signing of the Downing Street Declaration of December 15, 1993, which he had negotiated with British Prime Minister John Major. The Declaration set out a series of principles upon which the British and Irish governments would seek to create a lasting settlement of the Northern Ireland conflict. Although not totally successful, the Declaration did play a major part in getting the Irish Republican Army to agree to a ceasefire on August 31, 1994.

A series of conflicts between the Fianna Fáil and Labour parties led to the coalition government falling apart in November of 1994, and Reynolds was obliged to resign as Prime Minister on November 17. He kept his seat in Parliament until retiring from politics in 2002. He died in Dublin on August 21, 2014.

Charles James Haughey

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The Robinson Library >> General and Old World History >> Great Britain >> Ireland

This page was last updated on November 02, 2017.