The Taoiseach is appointed by the President upon the nomination of Dáil Éireann (the lower house of the Oireachtas), and must, while he remains in office, retain the support of a majority in the Dáil. The current Taoiseach is Brian Cowen, TD, leader of the Fianna Fáil party.
The Taoiseach nominates the remaining members of the Government, who are then, with the consent of the Dáil, appointed by the President. The Taoiseach also has authority to have fellow members of the cabinet dismissed from office. He or she is further responsible for appointing eleven members of the Senate.
The modern position of Taoiseach was established by the 1937 Constitution of Ireland, to replace the position of President of the Executive Council of the 1922–1937 Irish Free State. The positions of Taoiseach and President of the Executive Council differed in certain fundamental respects. Under the Constitution of the Irish Free State the latter was vested with considerably less power and was largely just the cabinet's presiding officer. For example, the President of the Executive Council could not dismiss a fellow minister. The Free State's cabinet, the Executive Council, had to be disbanded and reformed entirely, in order to remove one of its number. The President of the Executive Council could also not personally seek a dissolution of Dáil Éireann from the head of state, that power belonging collectively to the Executive Council. In contrast, the Taoiseach created in 1937 possesses a much more powerful role. He can both instruct the President to dismiss ministers, and request a parliamentary dissolution on his own initiative.
Historically, where there have been multi-party or coalition governments, the Taoiseach has come from the leader of the largest party in the coalition. One exception to this was John A. Costello, who was not leader of his party, but an agreed choice to head the government, because the other parties refused to accept then Fine Gael leader Richard Mulcahy as Taoiseach.
Prior to the enactment of the 1937 Constitution, the head of government was referred to as the President of the Executive Council. This office was first held by W. T. Cosgrave of Cumann na nGaedhael from 1922–32, and then by Éamon de Valera from 1932–37. By convention Taoisigh are numbered to include Cosgrave, for example Brian Cowen is considered the 12th Taoiseach not the 11th.
|#||Name||Picture||Entered Office||Left Office||Elected||Party|
|1.||W. T. Cosgrave||6 December 1922||9 March 1932||5 terms||Cumann na nGaedhael|
|2.||Éamon de Valera||9 March 1932||29 December 1937||3 terms||Fianna Fáil|
|#||Name||Picture||Entered Office||Left Office||Elected||Period||Party|
|1.||Éamon de Valera||29 December 1937||18 February 1948||3 terms||1st time||Fianna Fáil|
|2.||John A. Costello||18 February 1948||13 June 1951||1 term||1st time||Fine Gael|
|Éamon de Valera||13 June 1951||2 June 1954||1 term||2nd time||Fianna Fáil|
|John A. Costello||2 June 1954||20 March 1957||1 term||2nd time||Fine Gael|
|Éamon de Valera||20 March 1957||23 June 1959||1 term||3rd time||Fianna Fáil|
|3.||Seán Lemass||23 June 1959||10 November 1966||3 terms||Fianna Fáil|
|4.||Jack Lynch||10 November 1966||14 March 1973||2 terms||1st time||Fianna Fáil|
|5.||Liam Cosgrave||14 March 1973||5 July 1977||1 term||Fine Gael|
|Jack Lynch||5 July 1977||11 December 1979||1 term||2nd time||Fianna Fáil|
|6.||Charles Haughey||11 December 1979||30 June 1981||1 term||1st time||Fianna Fáil|
|7.||Garret FitzGerald||30 June 1981||9 March 1982||1 term||1st time||Fine Gael|
|Charles Haughey||9 March 1982||14 December 1982||1 term||2nd time||Fianna Fáil|
|Garret FitzGerald||14 December 1982||10 March 1987||1 term||2nd time||Fine Gael|
|Charles Haughey||10 March 1987||11 February 1992||2 terms||3rd time||Fianna Fáil|
|8.||Albert Reynolds||11 February 1992||15 December 1994||1 term||Fianna Fáil|
|9.||John Bruton||15 December 1994||26 June 1997||1 term||Fine Gael|
|10.||Bertie Ahern||26 June 1997||6 May 2008||3 terms||Fianna Fáil|
|11.||Brian Cowen||7 May 2008||Incumbent||1 term||Fianna Fáil|
There have never been more than six former Taoisigh alive at any one time.
Some Biographies of former Taoisigh & Presidents of the Executive Council: