Making a government

Enda Kenny and Micheál Martin will meet for talks after a Dáil vote for taoiseach

Mark Hilliard Wed, Apr 6
LIVE: Making a government

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  • This event has now ended
  • 13:31

    So here we are. Another vote to find a Taoiseach. Only about an hour to go and the nation is on tenterhooks. Well ok, not really.

    But we are trying to find a new government and we’ll be following it all closely here.  

  • 13:36

    While today will almost certainly not deliver – backroom negotiations, Machiavellian machinations and political interplay continues apace in some sort of effort to shape a future administration and agenda from the post-election soup.  

  • 13:38

    Irish Times political reporter Sarah Bardon summarises the state of play very nicely.  

  • 13:40

    Today’s nominations will include Ruth Coppinger, the token offering of the left, while Sinn Fein has demurred putting Gerry Adams forward to contest the “charade”.

    One thing that is certain is that if Fine Gael and Fianna Fail – whose respective leaders Enda Kenny and Michéal Martin are set to lock horns privately this evening – cannot overcome decades of civil war politics (yawn) and begin to work together, there will be another general election.

  • 13:43

    But as our deputy political editor Pat Leahy succinctly puts it: “There is not, to put it mildly, much agreement on what is going to happen, or when, or even where.” He lays it all out here.  

  • 13:46
    With the clock ticking toward the inevitable deadlock, these are the latest whisperings from Sarah Bardon:

    The five rural TDs have confirmed they will be abstaining from today's vote as has Katherine Zappone.

    The Labour party is meeting this afternoon to discuss how it intends to vote but it is expected they will also abstain.

    It is not known when the acting Taoiseach and the Fianna Fail leader Micheal Martin will meet, although it is expected the first discussions will take place this evening.

    The Fianna Fail parliamentary party will meet tomorrow at 11am to discuss the negotiations.  

  • 13:48
    Alan Farrell is ready for the canvas
  • 13:51
  • 13:55
  • 14:02

    Shane Ross TD of the Independent Alliance has confirmed the group will abstain from Wednesday’s vote on the grounds it is continuing to negotiate with both Fine Gael  and Fianna Fáil on possible government programmes.

  • 14:09
  • 14:11
  • 14:16
    The sky opens over Dail Eireann. Even the Gods are getting annoyed.  
  • 14:20

    From the outside looking in.  

    The Guardian's view: The most probable outcome of the negotiations, which could last for days, if not weeks, is that Fianna Fáil supports a Fine Gael-led minority administration without formally entering government.  

  • 14:24

    What would JFK do?

    “Let us not despair but act. Let us not seek the Republican answer or the Democratic answer but the right answer. Let us not seek to fix the blame for the past – let us accept our own responsibility for the future.”

  • 14:26
    The politicians are taking their seats. We are at the edge of ours.  
  • 14:38
    Statements to be limited to five minutes. Possibly for the best. Chances are we will be familiar with what they have to say.  
  • 14:39

    Sinn Fein's Mary Lou McDonald: "It's not acceptable that Dail deputies are frustrated in our work."

  • 14:39
    As she attempts to table a motion for the establishment of a committee to address the homeless and housing crisis.  
  • 14:41

    Richard Boyd Barrett says the issue “simply cannot wait” while political games continue.  

  • 14:43

    Ceann Comhairle says nobody disputes the importance of the issue but today’s efforts to elect a Taoiseach are a constitutional imperative.  

  • 14:45

    Candidate Ruth Coppinger said that while electing a Taoiseach is important the Dail should be allowed to meet separately to address other pressing issues.  

  • 14:50
    There is a general disquiet over the lack of progress on issues outside of forming a government, but then it's all coming from those who are unlikely to play any part in one.  
  • 14:51
  • 14:53

    Ceann Comhairle says whips should meet to discuss how to address other issues. Now let’s talk about a Taoiseach (and Dail reform).  

  • 14:57

    Approaching half an hour in and the Twitter consensus on today’s Dail is...stop shouting.  

  • 15:00
  • 15:02
    Trying to keep up here...
  • 15:07

    Parliamentary correspondent Michael O’Regan summarises the first half hour:

    Proceedings have begun with sharp exchanges as Ceann Comhairle Sean O Fearghail turned down an Opposition demand for an emergency debate on housing.
    Sinn Fein deputy leader Mary Lou McDonald sought to move a motion setting up a group of TDs to deal with the “absolute catastrophe” facing families in need of housing.
    PBP-AAA TD Richard Boyd Barrett accused the “establishment parties” of engaging in an elaborate political charade while the crisis in homelessness was being ignored. He s aid “urgent, comprehensive and radical action” was needed to deal with the homelessness crisis which was inflicting hardship on families, mostly children.  

  • 15:09
    For now TDs are voting on whether to adjourn the Dail until the 14th.  
  • 15:10
  • 15:17
    Nominations are now open for Taoiseach
  • 15:19

    Fine Gael TD Noel Rock nominates Enda Kenny saying “a process of real substance has brought together a document of real substance”.

    Fifty hours of deliberations with Independents has addressed issues including housing, health, climate change and childcare.  

  • 15:20

    He criticises those not intent on forming a government. “Enda Kenny is serious about governing.”

  • 15:22

    Catherine Byrne TD seconds the nomination saying Kenny is a man of “honour, integrity and vision”.

    His qualities are needed in these challenging times, she says, and he has made an effort to form stable government.  

  • 15:26

    Fianna Fail Mayo TD Lisa Chambers nominates Micheál Martin who has consistently opposed government policies which have hit the vulnerable.

    She said she and the majority of deputies had campaigned for change. “The people gave their verdict on the outgoing government and their policies and it is very clear they voted for change,” she said.


  • 15:26

    Micheál Martin’s nomination is seconded by Thomas Byrne TD.  

  • 15:28

    Richard Boyd Barrett has nominated Ruth Coppinger for Taoiseach. He says the process of finding a new leader has “become a total farce”.  

  • 15:31

    “It’s now 40 days and 40 nights since the general election that this farce has continued and while Jesus Christ wandered in the wilderness for 40 days and nights contemplating the sins of mankind and maybe the need to save it, Fianna Fail and Fine Gael have left this country in a political wilderness.”

    He said the left simply do not have the numbers to form a government and those who do should get on with it.

    He is asking the acting government to begin to address the homeless and housing crisis and has begun to set out potential policies.  

  • 15:31
  • 15:33

    Mick Barry TD seconds Coppinger's nomination and discusses issues facing women.  


  • 15:34
    Twitter is getting restless - GET ON WITH IT!  
  • 15:35
    It only took an hour but Mick Barry wins the prize for the first mention of the "Panama Papers".  
  • 15:36
    Boycott Irish Water bills! Who says the politicians aren't moving forward?  
  • 15:39

    Sinn Fein president Gerry Adams – who declined to put himself forward for Taoiseach – has welcomed the impending meeting of Enda Kenny and Micheal Martin but says the process of attempting to elect a Taoiseach today is a charade.

    He also mentions the Panama Papers and other issues the Dail is not addressing as the quagmire continues.  

  • 15:40
  • 15:42
    Adams notes civil war politics do little to stymie cooperation on local councils  
  • 15:46
    Acting Tanaiste Joan Burton has said while Labour honoured its commitment to support Enda Kenny on March 10th, it considers it would be premature to vote for a candidate today. It will abstain on Enda Kenny and oppose Micheál Martin and others.

    At least Fine Gael is taking its responsibilities seriously as the country “cannot afford this impasse", she said.  

  • 15:51

    Talking about the Panama Papers, Burton says “the issue of tax justice are even more important than ever”.

    Fine Gael has gone some way to put forward policy proposals on important issues – just not far enough – but Fianna Fail is more concerned about what is good for itself, she says.

    “What Fianna Fail should be doing is sitting down with Fine Gael to see if a responsible rather than a reckless set of policy agreements can form a government.”

  • 15:52

    As regards what Adams calls the "charade" of a Taoiseach election with no chance of electing a Taoiseach, Burton appeals for progress.  

    “Please don’t waste the Dail’s time. The next time that the Dáil votes it should be for the election of a Taoiseach."  

    She said there has bene shadow boxing while the country needs a Taoiseach.  

  • 15:53
  • 15:56

    Mattie McGrath abstains on the vote of Taoiseach and appeals for acting Ministers to “give up your payments” and take the ordinary TD salary.  

  • 15:59

    Denis Naughten TD says his group of five independents will abstain today in order to afford Fine Gael and Fianna Fail time to put together an agreed working programme.

    It is, he told the Dáil, “time to stand up and do the job they were elected to do”.  

  • 16:01
    The electorate is tired and increasingly cynical...
  • 16:03
    Was there a byelection? Who is the TD to the right of Mattie?
  • 16:05

    Danny Healy Rae has said he was reliably informed that “high level talks” have been ongoing between Fianna Fail and Fine Gael for some days but he is met with laughter. Nervous laughter?  

  • 16:06

    He and his brother Michael have been working hard with both but have “made little progress”.

    There are serious issues that need to be addressed he said. “I have a man in east Kerry, he is totally blind and his home help has been cut down to five days...he is putting on his clothes upside down and spilling hot water on himself.”  

  • 16:09
    Stay in your seats! Don't move! Hardly breath! The vote for Enda Kenny commences...
  • 16:11
  • 16:29

    And....Enda Kenny has NOT been elected Taoiseach. Nothing like a good twist.  

    For: 51 Against: 80


    Now it's time to vote on Micheál Martin.  

  • 16:38
  • 16:42
    The process takes a long time but nobody mention enhanced electronic voting. It could bring down a government (if there was one).  
  • 16:42
  • 16:46

    And the results for Micheál Martin are....

    Yes: 43

    No: 95

  • 16:48
    We now move on to Ruth Coppinger. After she is heavily defeated there will be more debate in the Dáil and outcry from a disillusioned public.  
  • 16:53
    Whether it is a play on drying paint or the disproportionate number of Simpsons references, Twitter's view of the Dail is either "boring" or "inept".
  • 17:04
    108 votes against Ruth Coppinger and now further debate from party spokespersons. Acting Taoiseach is up first.  
  • 17:08

    Enda Kenny says there has been over 50 hours of constructive deliberations with Independent TDs and he will meet with Micheál Martin this evening.

    We are now nearly six weeks on form the general election, he said, and he makes no apologies for taking time to tease out important issues with Independent deputies.  

  • 17:12

    Kenny says he intends to be as flexible as possible with Martin. This is not just about numbers, it is about trust, he said, in a very symbolic year.

    He said he would now meet with Martin and while he did not know if this would lead to a conclusion within the next week, he would work diligently.

    He said he hopes the discussions will lead them “hopefully to a conclusion”.  

  • 17:17

    Micheál Martin has said his party has been consistent since the election and since the scale of the rejection of the government became apparent.

    Fianna Fail has sought a change in government, of priorities and of how politics is carried out.

    They have clearly outlined policies that could be carried out between six and 12 months, he said. These include making the recovery fairer, the securing of well paid jobs and the supply of housing.  

  • 17:22

    “I have no difficulty in meeting with you at all,” he told Enda Kenny but said he did not need to find out about a pending meeting in the media. “The briefings have to stop Taoiseach. The briefings and the manipulation of opinion.”

  • 17:23
    He said politics in Ireland has the bizarre situation where some parties are calling for others to create a government so they can get on with denouncing it.

    Independent studies, he told the Dáil, have shown one third of governments in Europe since 1945 have functioned with minority support.  

  • 17:25

    Ruth Coppinger has said Fine Gael and Fianna Fail do not represent change.

    She said the Panama Papers published this week represent the control of wealth by a tine elite and Ireland had played its part in creating a tax haven.  

    This position and inequality is supported by both Fine Gael and Fianna Fail.  

  • 17:27

    She said water charges had not been addressed and the main parties' position on what to do is not clear. She said the boycott needs to be continued as the two main parties cannot be relied upon to abolish them.  

  • 17:28
  • 17:29

    Coppinger repeats calls for a referendum on the Eight Amendment.  

  • 17:32

    She said Independents were “not really independent because they are willing to horse trade” and cautioned that if the established parties “think they can continue to rule in the old way you can forget it”.  

  • 17:34

    Frances Fitzgerald said Fine Gael “would work with others in the national interest to move beyond the current impasse”.

    They would avoid posturing and put the country first. “I don’t think we should be bound by either tribal mindsets or historical tradition,” she said.  

  • 17:35
  • 17:36
    Meanwhile, in another corner of the Oireachtas...
  • 17:42

    Sinn Fein’s Peadar Tóibín said Sinn Fein want to be in government but the numbers are not there. Anyone saying otherwise are simply trying to draw them into the farce.

    “The people have voted the way they have voted,” he said.  

  • 17:45

    Fine Gael and Fianna Fail, he says, must end “this groundhog day”, this “republic of farce”.  

  • 17:51

    Alan Kelly said the “pantomime has to end”. There are those who have no intention of going into government. The simple facts, he said, are that in 2011 the Labour party had to “put the country first” and they did. People might disagree but they “produced”.

    “I am no calling on the marriage that is proposed” between Fine Gael and Fianna Fail to proceed.  
  • 17:55

    Bríd Smith of People Before Profit said there are competing political interests. She said Alan Kelly, while in charge of housing, had driven the interests of the private market and developers while PBP wanted to end these interests and produce social housing.

    On water charges, she said 90 deputies “stealing the clothes of the left” had been elected on a promise to address the issue but nothing had been done.  

  • 18:03

    Catherine Murphy of the Social Democrats said they abstained on today’s vote because they didn’t see a viable result.

    She said there were concerns over light touch regulation in Ireland and this has been evidenced by the Panama Papers which “unfortunately” has seen Ireland play a part.

    There was a “lecturing tone” in the Dáil about responsibility. She said the Social Democrats want to be constructive but there needs to be a programme for the Dáil as well as a programme for government.

    The Dáil is polarised, she said, because society has become polarised.