Each Dáil since the first in 1919 have had their moments of drama, controversy, and sensation. The 30th Dáil, elected in 2007 made history as Bertie Ahern's third successive election victory, making him the first Taoiseach since Éamon de Valera to hold such an achievement. Fine Gael managed to regain many of the seats they had lost in 2002, while Sinn Féin continued to grow. The Progressive Democrats were vanquished and would later dissolve, while the Green Party found themselves entering into government for the first time, in coalition with Fianna Fáil.
By 2008, despite his earlier stated intentions to remain Taoiseach until 2012, Ahern resigned when the investigations of the Mahon Tribunal into his personal finances began to overshadow the government. He was replaced by his Tánaiste and Minister for Finance Brian Cowen, who was almost immediately tasked with convincing the electorate to support the Lisbon Treaty in a referendum. He failed to do so, and very shortly found himself engaged in huge economic difficulties as the boom abruptly ended and Ireland headed for a recession. As the next few years passed, Cowen's government became increasingly unpopular, with the controversial government bailout of Anglo-Irish Bank and other revelations of careless practice by banks caused public outrage, which was only amplified by the eventual bailing out of the state by the EU, the ECB and the IMF. Fianna Fáil, which had remained the largest and most supported party in the state in 2007, and become the subject of intense anger and opposition.
The contrast between Fianna Fáil's performances in the 2007 and 2011 general elections is stark, but the beginnings of the decline the party suffered can be witnessed not just from the midterm local and European elections, but also from the by-elections which took place between those years.
Dublin South, 5 June 2009
Outgoing TD: Seamus Brennan, Fianna Fáil (died 9 July 2008)
Elected: George Lee, Fine Gael
Dublin Central, 5 June 2009
Outgoing TD: Tony Gregory, Independent (died 2 January 2009)
Elected: Maureen O'Sullivan, Independent
Donegal South West, 25 November 2010
Outgoing TD: Pat "the Cope" Gallagher, Fianna Fáil (elected to the European Parliament, 5 June 2009)
Elected: Pearse Doherty, Sinn Féin