Costello, John Aloysius

Costello, John Aloysius, 1891–1976, Irish political leader. A barrister, he joined the attorney general's office of the newly founded Irish Free State in 1922. In 1926 he became attorney general under William Cosgrave. A member of Fine Gael, he was elected to Ireland's parliament in 1933 and served there until 1969. In 1948, Fine Gael formed a coalition government and, despite not being party leader, Costello became prime minister (1948–51). He introduced (1948) the Republic of Ireland Act, which withdrew the country from the Commonwealth of Nations, breaking with a party commitment to remain in the Commonwealth. The law led to Britain's Ireland Act (1949), which required the approval of the Northern Irish parliament before Northern Ireland would cease to be part of the United Kingdom. In 1954 Costello and Fine Gael once more formed a coalition government (1954–57). During his second term, the economy faltered and the Irish Republican Army resumed terror attacks.

See biography by D. McCullagh (2010).

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