Dáil vote for Taoiseach
Motions to elect both Enda Kenny and Micheál Martin as Taoiseach have been defeated
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The endgame of the endgame is what Irish Times political correspondent Fiach Kelly has called today’s proceedings in the Dail as it meets for a third time to try and elect a Taoiseach.
No winner is expected today however, which means we will still have no government. Perhaps “beginning of the endgame of the endgame” would be more appropriate.
Not very snappy though.
My name is Colin Gleeson and I will be bringing you all the action or inaction as the case may be from Leinster House over the next couple of hours.
You can tweet me @ColinGleesonIT if you’d like to get involved and I will publish them here.
The vote is expected to get underway at 2.30pm.
In spite of the likely absence of an elected Taoiseach today, the proceedings have taken on a slightly more significant feel as the scramble to form a minority government has almost run its course.
Fianna Fail leader Micheal Martin last night told the 15 Independent TDs who have been in and out of negotiations with both his party and with Fine Gael that today will be their last opportunity to jump aboard the Good Ship Martin.
If he cannot establish a lead over Kenny, he will give up on his attempts to form a minority government and we will be down to two choices: a Fine Gael minority government or another election.
A subplot to that scenario is that by all accounts Fine Gael will not want to go the polls again with Kenny at the tiller.
Try not to fall over yourselves with the excitement.
Last time out, the Fianna Fail leader was eight votes behind Kenny: 51 to 43.
To tie things up, he would need to beat Kenny among the Independents by 11 to 4.
It has just broken in the past 20 minutes or so that fourteen Independent TDs will abstain today, supporting neither Kenny nor Martin.
The Independents are made up of the Independent Alliance and the so-called five rural Independent TDs, the Healy Rae brothers and Maureen O’Sullivan in a deal labelled the ‘Ag House agreement’.
It is understood Independent TD Katherine Zappone did not sign up to the idea.
The Independent Alliance and the so-called five rural Independent TDs have also agreed to pull out of the discussions with Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael.
There’s progress for you.
Independent TD Michael Fitzmaurice has released a statement, which he’s rather fond of doing, saying he and the other abstaining TDs are pulling back until three budgets can be agreed with one of the two largest parties.
“Fourteen Independent TDs have met this morning and they have decided to step back from talks until the main parties Fine Gael and Fianna Fail reciprocate to each other on the formation of a minority Government,” he said.
“We want the parties to agree on a three-budget programme for a minority Government and we are withdrawing from the talks process until that can be agreed, and all the 14 Independent TD’s are in agreement with that strategy.
“We have also made it clear that if the main parties want a facilitator to assist with their talks, that will be made available to them.”
I’m sure that’s just what they need. Send in the Healy-Raes.
14:30The 14 TDs referred to are: Sean Canney, Michael Collins, Michael Fitzmaurice, Noel Grealish, John Halligan, Michael Harty, Danny Healy-Rae, Michael Healy-Rae, Finian McGrath, Mattie McGrath, Kevin ‘Boxer’ Moran, Denis Naughten, Maureen O’Sullivan and Shane Ross.
We’re about to get underway here.
They’re saying the daily prayer.
Something along the lines of “please see fit to bestow upon us a Taoiseach” would be more the order of the day.
More grandstanding from Sinn Fein leader Gerry Adams who is asking the Ceann Comhairle to postpone the vote so the House can deal with the more “pressing issues” facing the State.
Once again, Ceann Comhairle Seán Ó Fearghaíl has to remind him that: “No doubting the seriousness of all the issues you raise, the election of a Taoiseach is a constitutional matter, which takes precedent.”
He adds that Adams should not pre-empt the result of the vote.
Kerry TD Michael Healy Rae has released a statement to say it was he who organised and chaired the meeting that was held earlier today with all the Independent TDs.
A round of applause? Anyone?
He said he hopes the meeting and outcome will assist in “hastening forward the formation of a new Government”.
First things first.
A vote has been called on adjourning the House after today’s business until Wednesday at 10.30am.
15:01It's a fair point. He must be running out of things to say about his Dear Leader at this stage. I wonder could he use the same speech as last time. Or perhaps he could agree with his Fianna Fail counterpart Lisa Chambers to exchange scripts for a bit of variety..
The House has agreed to adjourn after today’s proceedings until Wednesday.
The motion was passed by 100 votes to 55.
Noel Rock is now nominating Enda Kenny for Taoiseach.
“Since I last took to me feet to nominate Enda Kenny for Taoiseach, a number of events have taken place,” he tells the House.
He cites the offer of “full partnership” to Fianna Fail.
He says he believes it was a “bold offer” and “one worth making”.
He quotes Theodore Roosevelt: "In any moment of decision, the best thing you can do is the right thing, the next best thing is the wrong thing, and the worst thing you can do is nothing.”
Probably up for debate that one, but anyway.
Lisa Chambers is now nominating Micheal Martin.
She says he is making every effort to make sure the promises made during the election campaign will be fulfilled.
She has criticised the rhetoric that “Fianna Fail has no right to keep our word”.
She says the party “will never accept having to dismiss” a promise made during the election.
It really is a new dawn.
Minority governments can work if people are willing to try, she says.
It would be more representative, she says, where all parliamentarians would have influence over legislation and policy.
In a direct appeal to Independents, she says: “If you sit on your hands or vote against Micheal Martin, you are effectively putting Enda Kenny back in as Taoiseach to lead a minority Government.”
She appeals to the TDs to vote for change.
Labour leader Joan Burton sounds like she’s fairly sick of the whole thing as well.
“Here we go again today,” she says, “and not as happy as can be.”
“The fact is Fianna Fail and Fine Gael have the numbers.”
She calls on the two parties to “agree the provision of a Government”.
“Instead though, we’ve continued prevarication by FF, for its own political interests and contrary to the country’s interest.”
She points out that the Labour party did not sit on its hands five years ago when the country was in difficulty.
It’s a fair point, and look at them now.
“This is Groundhog Day,” says Sinn Fein’s David Cullinane.
“We know this is a farce. We know this is a charade. It will anger people looking in who will ask why they are going through the motions today.”
Fianna Fail TD for Cork South West Margaret Murphy O’Mahony has made her maiden Dail speech.
With no thought for the possibility of an impending election, she said Cork South West was the “most beautiful place on earth”.
Independent TD Shane Ross has taken to his feet to address the House.
A lot of the talks with Fine Gael and Fianna Fail have been “constructive”, he says.
The Independents have become “very used to being love-bombed by both sides” he says.
“The problem is you won’t love-bomb each other.”
Just checked what love-bombing means there.
Apparently, it’s “an attempt to influence a person by lavish demonstrations of attention and affection”.
Learning so much today.
Sinn Fein leader Gerry Adams is telling the House that talks between parties have not been genuine.
He says it’s a case of “personalities before country” and “ego before citizens’ rights”.
He says Sinn Fein is open to talking to “all parties and none”, but that Fianna Fail and Fine Gael have ruled them out.
“We on these benches are not worthy to be talked to,” he adds.
15:55Voting for Taoiseach is now underway.
First up is Enda Kenny.
The TDs are now getting to their feet and filing up the stairs to vote.
16:02It should also be noted that Green Party TD Catherine Martin made her maiden speech to the Dail while all that was going on, and is being widely praised for her performance on Twitter.
The motion to elect Enda Kenny as Taoiseach has been defeated by 77 votes to 52.
That's one extra vote for Kenny since last time.
All those talks must feel really worthwhile.
Now it’s Micheal Martin’s turn.
16:14Independent TD Katherine Zappone was the extra vote for Kenny.
In Kenny’s vote, Fianna Fail, Sinn Fein, the four Independents4Change TDs Clare Daly, Mick Wallace, Tommy Broughan and Joan Collins voted against him, along with Independents Seamus Healy and Catherine Connolly.
The Social Democrats, the Green Party, Labour, the Independent Alliance and the Rural Five TDs abstained along with Independents Maureen O’Sullivan and the Healy-Rae brothers.
The motion to elect Micheal Martin as Taoiseach has been defeated by 91 votes to 43.
Same number of votes as last time.
Enda Kenny is now addressing the House.
“Seven weeks on from the General Election, it is time to focus with a sense of urgency on what we have to do here,” he says.
He is listing all the dangers facing the economy in the coming months, including the British referendum on exiting the EU.
He also says there are crises facing the State domestically, such as housing.
He remains “fully committed” to forming a Government.
Kenny says he “invites Deputy Martin to meet with [him] to authorise the continuation of discussions on the formation of a Government”.
Martin has taken to his feet and says there has been a “decisive and permanent change of attitudes” in relation to Dail reform.
He reiterates his position that Fianna Fail will not go into coalition with Fianna Fail.
Sorry, Fine Gael.
He’s having a go at Sinn Fein for taking a back seat.
He adds that the “sheer number of people who have appointed themselves spokespersons on the national interest is ridiculous”.
Martin tells the House that “following this vote, it is time to move on”.
He says Fianna Fail believes a minority government is the only option.
“We are in danger of the word ‘partnership’ being drained of any substance,” he says.
He appeals to Fine Gael to “abandon the mindset of trying to spin and control everything”.
He says he is willing to continue talks with Fine Gael about forming a minority government “if you’re genuine” about changing the way politics is run.
“We continue to be willing to be flexible,” he says, but adds that he expects Fine Gael to “continue to do what they have been doing up to now” with leaks to the media etc.
Fine Gael’s Simon Coveney says the party “will certainly approach those talks in good faith”.
“We also have attempted to be flexible and open,” he says. “There haven’t been leaks in relation to the contents of those discussions to date.
“Let’s be honest,” he adds (hear him out), “Both parties are of course cautious about how proceedings might affect themselves as well as the country.”
He pays tribute to Independent TD Katherine Zappone for “her courage” in supporting Enda Kenny as Taoiseach.
“Can I encourage others ahead of next week to take a risk,” he adds.
More on Micheal Martin’s speech a moment ago.
“It is not unreasonable to ask that people state who they are willing to support,” he said. “Many very candid positions have been stated in private which have yet to be repeated in public. Following this vote it is time to move on.
“As we have said repeatedly, and as I outlined in the Dáil last week and on Sunday and Monday, Fianna Fáil believes that a minority government is the only credible and legitimate outcome from the current make-up of the Dáil. We understand the need for an agreement which allows such a government to function.
“We agreed with Fine Gael last Saturday to enter into discussions about a minority government. We have approached these discussions in good faith and have achieved significant progress on the most important issue, which is to define responsibilities and approaches between parties in such an arrangement.
“This said, there are very significant concerns relating to these discussions and whether the entire process can be completed.”
Sinn Fein Mary Lou McDonald is on her feet and says both Fine Gael and Fianna Fail have a “disgraceful” record when it comes to tackling inequality in this State and upholding the principles of the Republic.
She says the current impasse is “precisely about numbers; precisely about control; and about throwing the rattle out of the pram because you can’t have it all your own way”.
She adds that neither Kenny nor Martin is fit to be Taoiseach.
She does not want to see either of them in office as it would not be good for the people that voted for Sinn Fein, “but the numbers are the numbers”.
“Get on with it,” she says. “Make up your minds, and stop insulting peoples’ intelligence with the postures and poses that you strike.”
She throws in the requisite “Tweedledum and Tweedledee” reference.
Just for a change like.
Much of the chamber has emptied out at this stage.
Anti-Austerity Alliance People before Profit TD Richard Boyd-Barrett is addressing the House and says Fianna Fail and Fine Gael “are holding the country to ransom”.
17:05“I consider myself reasonably studied and knowledgeable about Irish politics,” he says. “But if you asked me what the difference is between Fianna Fail and Fine Gael, I haven’t got a clue.”
Micheal Martin earlier received only the support of his parliamentary party in the vote for Taoiseach.
Most Independents and smaller parties abstained while Fine Gael, Sinn Fein and Independents Michael Lowry and Katherine Zappone voted against.
Shane Ross of the Independent Alliance said the group was withdrawing from the talks on the formation of a government so that Fianna Fail and Fine Gael can come to some conclusion.
In a jibe at Fianna Fail leader Micheal Martin, he said: “We do not like receiving ultimatums from any party that we should vote one way or get off the pitch.”
Independent TD Katherine Zappone is addressing the House and says she was not invited to the meeting earlier when it was agreed the group of 14 Independents would abstain.
She adds however that she believes this was “inadvertent”.
She says she is in agreement with her Independent colleagues that there ought to be an agreement in place for three budgets.
She doesn’t think a second election will change the outcome.
She has concluded by saying it is her belief that “Fine Gael is willing to take on a belief - and make integral to their vision - the belief that full equality is possible”.
“I hope my vote today for Enda Kenny as Taoiseach brings us closer to forming a minority Government.”
Zappone’s contribution brings to an end to the proceedings.
The House will reconvene again at 10.30am next Wednesday.
With that, we’ll bring an end to the live blog for today. Very little in the way of any substantive progress made, but we must surely now be headed for the end of the end game.
If the Dail fails to elect a Taoiseach for a fourth time, we might be headed for the polls again.
Watch this space.
Thanks for reading and see irishtimes.com for all the latest news and analysis in relation to today’s proceedings and what might lie ahead.
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