An extraordinary alliance of left-wing socialists and right-wing Republicans has returned Charles J. Haughey to office as leader of the new Irish parliament.
Mr. Haughey secured most of the votes of the seven independents who hold the balance of power in the parliament which assembled here March 9. A downcast Dr. Garret FitzGerald listened passively as power slipped from his grasp.
One by one the independents gave their reasons for voting for the man who narrowly lost last June's election but mustered enough support to lead the largest party back to parliament after last month's election.
Dr. FitzGerald's backbenchers jeered as a young activist from Dublin's inner city reeled off details of an unprecedented pact he had made with Mr. Haughey.
Tony Gregory, the activist, said Haughey promised to spend between 100 and 150 million Irish pounds (some $66 million to $100 million) on urban renewal and job creation.
A document detailing the expenditure had been witnessed and signed by the leader of Ireland's biggest trade union.
''Haughey doesn't have a free rein to govern,'' commented one observer. ''We'll see how vigorously the tail wags the dog.''
Mr. Haughey's return marks the end of Dr. FitzGerald's tread softly approach toward solving the Northern Ireland impasse. Mr. Haughey believes an internal settlement, based on Catholics and Protestants forging a new alliance to govern Northern Ireland, is doomed unless the Irish Republic is included in the new relationship.
He believes Dublin and London should work together to create new governmental institutions.
His return also means an end to Dr. FitzGerald's constitutional crusade to rid the Irish Republic of Roman Catholic leanings.
But Mr. Haughey will no doubt have to reexamine his party's opposition to divorce and changes in family law and adoption because of his dependence on the support of the radical independents.
His principle focus will be to revitalize a sluggish economy and reduce Ireland's crippling foreign debt.