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The Best and Worst Taoiseach In Irish History

  • 21-02-2023 6:45pm
    Registered Users Posts: 1,846 ✭✭✭

    For me the worst is Charles Haughey i just never liked the man. Bertie Ahern and Brian Cowen wouldn't be too far behind either though! The best ones for me were Jack Lynch, Garrett Fitzgerald, Sean Lemass, John Bruton and Albert Reynolds. I always was of the opinion that Albert Reynolds face never fitted in with the Dublin elite. I suppose being from Cork i'd have to pick Jack Lynch as my favourite, but it would interesting to hear other peoples opinions on this.

    Cork 1990 All Ireland Senior Hurling and Football Champions



  • Moderators, Business & Finance Moderators Posts: 9,971 Mod ✭✭✭✭Jim2007

    Perhaps you should change your thread title to either indicate you are actually only looking for ones you like/don't like...

    At some point all of the holders of that office did the country some good and like wise they all left office when we were feed up of whatever they were doing. Sean Lemass did a lot of good for the country, but he was also one of the men in the mohair suits, as was Haughey. And Haughey gave us the succession act, which was a very significant piece of law in the fight for social justice - At the time men were disinheriting their families and were in great opposition to giving up their right to do so.

    Looking back over the last 60 years, the only period I can remember that was real hardship to live through was that of Liam Cosgrave, I really can't think of a single positive thing about it. There was the financial crisis, cost of living issues, the treatment of the president and the minister for hardship stuff etc... His is the only period I'd preferred to have skipped in totality.

  • Registered Users Posts: 24,741 ✭✭✭✭Strumms

    Haughey was a bit of a scoundrel for sure. his record isn’t blemish free…But his absolute achievements and accomplishments in office were far the betterment of the country for the most part. His CV as a Taoiseach is overwhelmingly positive.

    A TD for 35 years, never failed to get elected / re-elected and oversaw great growth, improvements and prosperity for the country and the citizens.

    worst by a mile, Leo Varadkar, you know for a fact that when you are listening to the man, he is an out and out chancer, hoodwinking people or attempting to. In November he made remarks that he was subsequently challenged in the Dail to withdraw, he said that housing costs are not lower for young Irish people overseas…errrr

    What ? If life experiences won’t tell you, a quick google certainly tells you otherwise ffs. A disingenuous scoundrel, opportunist and sound bite pusher…he is fortunate that he came along in a time where certain streetwise qualities in certain cohorts of younger and middle aged people distracted by the woke virus are damagingly lacking.

    fifteen years ago he’s have done well to warm the back benches…He’s not an individual fit or responsible enough or indeed good enough to be Taoiseach…

    Post edited by Strumms on

  • Registered Users Posts: 13,505 ✭✭✭✭Mad_maxx

    Best in no particular order

    Lemas ( effectively denounced the quarter century of disastrous economic governance under De velera and laid the earliest foundations of our modern economy

    Haughey ( the most able and gifted man to ever hold the office though obviously extremely flawed morally)

    Enda Kenny ( outperformed all expectations relative to ability, steady hand when we were completely ship wrecked )

    worst in no particular order

    Garret Fitz ( he couldn’t lead in a cabinet meeting about some minor bill let alone lead a country, an academic with no ability to get anything done )

    Michael Martin ( the Fr Ted of Taoiseachs , complete and utter spineless gobsh1te who prides himself on having never not dodged a decision and instead set up a committee to spend forever looking into it, happily made Tony Hollohan de facto leader for most of the time he was Taoiseach)

    Brian Cowen ( a cranky oul b0ll0cks who was also not much good for anything , got in the way of Brian Lenehan when he was desperately trying to make huge necessary cuts )

    Leo Varadkar ( the most hollow, cynical phoney to ever occupy the position)

    most over rated of the rest was Jack Lynch

  • Registered Users Posts: 9,918 ✭✭✭normanoffside

    Michael Martin has to be the worst ever Taoiseach. Probably a nice man but one incapable of making a decision on his own.

    Eamon Ryan if he does get the the gig in a few years will likely turn out to be worse again.

  • Registered Users Posts: 1,297 ✭✭✭Count Dracula

    Henry Grattan - I always found him duplicitous , but never banal.

    A real Irishman.

    Not alot of people know that?

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  • Registered Users Posts: 20,404 ✭✭✭✭dxhound2005

    Surely everybody has heard of Grattan's Parliament.

  • Registered Users Posts: 1,412 ✭✭✭AlanG

    While not called Taoiseach, WT Cosgrave must have been one of the best national leaders. He held the country together, got us massive international recognition and oversaw the building of the National Grid (europes first) and Ardnacrusha power plant which was the largest in the world. That was a remarkable achievment for the Free State as it emerged from civil war.

  • Registered Users Posts: 24,741 ✭✭✭✭Strumms

    Martin just seems incapable of wanting to piss people off. Too determined to try keep everyone happy. That’s a flawed tactic as you can’t keep everyone happy and the only way to make a fist of that is constantly compromising your opinion, view, tactics and beliefs….

    should stick to his guns.

    Varadkar is several points worse however… Martin would be a significantly better Taoiseach is that dreadful individual was far away.

  • Registered Users Posts: 16,233 ✭✭✭✭Galwayguy35

    Lol a great lad all right.

    Was quiet happy to have most of the population of Ireland with no rights, they even have a statue for the fooker.

  • Posts: 0 [Deleted User]

    I think he owns a tea shop is probably the best quote you'll get on this.

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  • Registered Users Posts: 1,297 ✭✭✭Count Dracula

    I think he cared about Ireland. There was no partition back then either, I completely comprehend the inadequacies of a Dáil inhabited by landowners, however don't forget, that was the only show in town?

    He campaigned for emancipation and was a tireless patriot.

    He instigated Penal law reform and drank heaps of stout if i remember correctly.

    Different times, Ulster Presbyterians were the masterminds of the 1798 rebellion, go figure that one out?

  • Posts: 0 [Deleted User]

    Online discourse - the further back they were the better they were.

  • Registered Users Posts: 176 ✭✭Aurelian

    And like a fool I clicked into this thread.

  • Moderators, Business & Finance Moderators, Motoring & Transport Moderators, Society & Culture Moderators Posts: 67,448 Mod ✭✭✭✭L1011

    Every time this topic turns up I say the same intro thing - you can't judge the most recent few objectively. This let Cowen off for quite a while...

    However, I'd still be reluctant to outright say he's the worst - he was dumped a lot of problems by Ahern and McCreevy. But he's definitely fighting for it.

    Worst: Cosgrave Jr was utterly ineffectual and wasted a period when there were good opportunities for the country; leaving everyone broke. Voted against his own Government to prevent progressive legislation. Often forgotten as a candidate for worst, but he is mine.

    Best: Lemass managed to pull away from DeV backwardsness and propel the country in to the 20th Century, more than halfway through.

  • Registered Users Posts: 3,389 ✭✭✭Airyfairy12

    Leo Varadkar hates poor people, during the pandemic he was asked about the 350 covid payments for people who had to give up work, he was asked about the very high earners who wouldnt be used to living on such a small amount of money, the look of genuine sadness, compassion & empathy on his face for the wealthy people who were now going to have to 'get by' on 350 a week until they could get back to work. Ive never seen him express such concern for people who were being made homeless or children relying on soup kitchens for food or suffering developmental delays having been raised in small hotel rooms. Years ago, when questioned about the rising number of people who couldnt afford to move out of their parents homes to either rent or buy, his response was that 'parents help to pay for their adult children to move out & buy their own homes' insinuating that the house prices & rents dont need to come down & wages dont need to go up because everyone has the bank of mammy & daddy to rely on.. this was obviously his experience & he's so totally out of touch with anyone outside of his social class that he didnt give a second thought to the millions of people who dont have families willing or able to financially support their children & besides that, he put that message out there creating feelings of guilt & shame for many people who couldnt offer or access family support. Then he demonised people on social welfare while simultaneously highering their weekly allowance causing anger & suspicion towards people dependant on the state.

    He put all his attention into tech & large american companies like no other industry exists, while nurses, teachers, social workers, childcare workers, sna's all struggled desperately to put food on the table as their working conditions worsened, wages reduced and more working people fell into poverty disproportionately effecting female workers & single mothers while forcing educated workers across all sectors to emigrate, the only ones who have any benefit of staying in Ireland are mostly male dominated fields such as tech & finance. So our health care, education and social supports are failing while the government reaps the profits from the big corporate companies.

    He is running this entire country into the ground!

  • Registered Users Posts: 13,505 ✭✭✭✭Mad_maxx

    Cosgrave was probably useless but the 1970,s was an economic mess in the UK , USA and anywhere that we depend on, he might have been a waste of space but few would wish to govern during that period

  • Moderators, Business & Finance Moderators, Motoring & Transport Moderators, Society & Culture Moderators Posts: 67,448 Mod ✭✭✭✭L1011

    We'd just joined the EEC which gave us the legs to get away from being dependent on the UK.

    Instead there was just mass panic about trying to figure out how to protect our artificially propped up (by protectionism) clothes/shoes/car assembly industries from real competition. There were also attempts to stop basic changes like allowing married women to keep working, and pay everyone the same as married men (single men got less in many jobs) with the idea that it wasn't affordable; when increasing the labour force and spending potential would both have helped rather than hindered

    So much could have been done then and wasn't. The agrifood revolution of the 90s could have happened 20 years earlier with better governance for instance - Cosgrave took over just as we now had 7 other, richer countries in a common market (not the single market) beyond the UK.

  • Registered Users Posts: 13,505 ✭✭✭✭Mad_maxx

    Those other countries were in recession due to the oil crisis

  • Moderators, Business & Finance Moderators, Motoring & Transport Moderators, Society & Culture Moderators Posts: 67,448 Mod ✭✭✭✭L1011

    Not by the latter half or his term they weren't. The UK still was, Sick Man of Europe era, and we stayed stuck to them economically.

    I did say this wasn't a common take on worst!

  • Registered Users Posts: 1,494 ✭✭✭crossman47

    Worst was Haughey. He had accomplishments to his name but these are dwarfed by the way he demeaned the office for personal gain.

    Best is a toss up between Lemass (saved us when we were in dire need), W. T. Cosgrave (led the state in its first ten years and handed over power democratically when there was a real danger that wouldn't happen) and De Valera (for facing down the IRA and then guiding us through WW2).

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  • Registered Users Posts: 13,505 ✭✭✭✭Mad_maxx

    We were in the infancy stage was developing economic ties outside the UK to the broader mainland European market

  • Moderators, Business & Finance Moderators, Motoring & Transport Moderators, Society & Culture Moderators Posts: 67,448 Mod ✭✭✭✭L1011

    That was my point, basically. His Government did bugger all to actually develop those ties; instead they flapped around like headless chickens at home with FG trying to prevent the Labour bit getting any modernisation (e.g. contraception) through; trying to continue to protect hopelessly uncompetitive industry and worrying about equal pay and so on.

    Opportunity wasted and left easy stuff for Lynch/Haughey and even Fitzgerald to do that could have been done earlier.

  • Registered Users Posts: 20,404 ✭✭✭✭dxhound2005

    Judging by the votes they got, the best were de Valera, Lynch and Ahern. Lynch was the leader of the last one party government, having got the biggest majority in the history of the State. He knew what people liked, so obviously they voted to abolish property tax, water charges, bin charges and motor/road tax. de Valera was the longest serving, Ahern is second. Obviously as part of coalitions, but the people loved what he had to offer, so he won three consecutive elections. What was not to like about tiger economics, with generous payments to savers and pensioners, and easily accessible credit.

  • Registered Users Posts: 1,383 ✭✭✭Rosahane

    Best was WT Cosgrave who built a democracy and it's independent institutions such as the Civil Service Commission in the face of opposition by the nascent gombeen men.

    Worst was Dev who only ever wanted unfettered power and riches and enabled the rise of the gombeen FF who profited from power.

    Second best was Lemass who brought Ireland into the 20th. century.

    Second worse was Varadkar with his globalist woke agenda.

  • Registered Users Posts: 20,490 ✭✭✭✭yourdeadwright

    The worst has to be Leo Varadkar,

    He is a vile man with no connection to the common man & no concept how the majority of Irish people live, He has no interest in helping the people of Ireland & no respect for the position he is in ,

    Its all about him , the sooner he is gone the better for the nation ,

  • Registered Users Posts: 20,404 ✭✭✭✭dxhound2005

    We are unlucky enough that a junior doctor from India, met a farmer's daughter from Waterford when they were both working in a hospital in England. Neither of whom could have any concept of how the majority of Irish people live, when they decided to produce a future Taoiseach.

  • Registered Users Posts: 24,208 ✭✭✭✭recode the site

    Leo the worst. Cowen was Taoiseach at a difficult time, didn’t like his style but that’s just me. Séan Lemass had a good reputation, a bit behind my conscious time. I have Jack Lynch to thank for my employment at a time of very high unemployment. He lived nearby, always very pleasant and humble in presence when you’d meet him.

    Can I get away with anything if I pay the piper, so to speak?

  • Registered Users Posts: 131 ✭✭omeara1113

  • Registered Users Posts: 2,358 ✭✭✭basillarkin

    Best: Bertie

    Worst: Leo

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  • Registered Users Posts: 3,989 ✭✭✭Cosmo Kramer

    As ever the best time to be a Taoiseach in these threads was a long time ago, the most recent ones are always the worst in people's eyes.

    Kenny probably the best in my lifetime I would say, given the hand he was dealt. Haughey the worst, closely followed by Ahern and Cowan.