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Saturday, July 13, 2013

Members of the Eighteenth Dáil - Ben Briscoe

Ben Briscoe

Ben Briscoe (born 11 March 1934) is a former Irish Fianna Fáil politician. He was a Teachta Dála (TD) for 37 years, representing a series of constituencies in Dublin.
Briscoe was first elected to Dáil Éireann as a Fianna Fáil TD for the Dublin South–West constituency at the 1965 general election, succeeding his father, Robert Briscoe who had been a TD for 38 years. He was re-elected at the 1969 general election for Dublin South–Central, where he was re-elected in 1973, and after major boundary changes for the 1977 general election, he was elected for the Dublin Rathmines West constituency. A subsequent boundary revision in advance of the 1981 general election abolished the Dublin Rathmines West splitting the area between the neighbouring constituencies. Briscoe was re-elected for the re-established Dublin South–Central constituency, which he held until he retired at the 2002 general election.

At the 1992 general election, Ben Briscoe was involved in a marathon recount battle with Democratic Left's Eric Byrne to decide the fate of the final seat in Dublin South–Central. Briscoe was declared the victor after ten days of re-counting and re-checking ballot papers, leading to Briscoe describing the long count as being like "the agony and the ex-TD."

Briscoe was sometimes critical of the leader of Fianna Fáil in the 1980s, once describing Charles Haughey leadership as a "Fascist Dictatorship". He fronted a quietly discontented anti-Haughey faction within the Parliamentary Party, which included Charlie McCreevy, during the Haughey's time as Taoiseach.

In 1988–1989 he was Lord Mayor of Dublin, a post previously held by his father Robert. His term covered the second half of Dublin's Millenium Year 1988. Briscoe described his selection as Lord Mayor of Dublin as "one of the proudest moments of my life" following the City Council making him Lord Mayor.

The Molly Malone statue on Grafton Street, was unveiled by Briscoe during 1988, the Dublin Millennium celebrations, declaring 13 June officially as Molly Malone Day.

Briscoe is one of Ireland's most famous Jewish politicians. The small Irish Jewish community have been enthusiastic and active participants in political and legal world. Briscoe's father was one of several Jews involved in the War of Independence and Sinn Féin movements, which led to the Jewish community being targeted by British occupation forces. In Briscoe's time each of the three main political parties had a Jewish member in Ireland's 166-member Dáil.

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