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Short time as Taoiseach was often controversial

ALBERT Reynolds served the shortest time as Taoiseach of any holder of the office to date.

But his term in power from February 1992 to December 1994 was often tumultuous.

The Downing Street Declaration in November and the IRA ceasefire of August 1994 are regarded as his most significant achievements.

From the peace process to the Beef Tribunal, Mr Reynolds was always in the spotlight.

He was widely credited for his contribution to the peace process, Mr Reynolds was a key figure in the Downing Street Declaration in November 1993, which was a significant factor in the 1994 IRA ceasefire. He developed a strong relationship with the former British Prime Minister John Major.

The Fianna Fail leader headed up two coalitions - firstly with the PDs and the secondly with the Labour Party. Both governments ended in tears.

He famously called coalition with the PDs as "a temporary little arrangement". But he and PD leader Dessie O'Malley were deeply critical of each other during the Beef Trbunal, an inquiry tribunal into the beef processing industry.

When it became clear that the relationship was at breaking point, an election was called after Mr Reynolds had served only nine months as Taoiseach.

He returned to power with Labour, but his pre-emptive response to the Beef Tribunal report damaged relations. However, it was the confusion over the extradition of paedophile priest Brendan Smyth which ultimately caused Mr Reynold's downfall.

The fallout from the delay, by the Office of the Attorney General, to extradite the sex abuser in 1994 saw Mr Reynolds stepping down as Taoiseach and the collapse of the Fianna Fail-Labour administration.

Mr Reynolds had already had to deal with the X Case from almost his first day in power. The controversy centred on a 14-year-old rape victim who wanted to travel to the UK for an abortion and resulted in a referendum on the right to travel and the right to information.