Seán Ó Feargháil of FF was elected Ceann Comhairle earlier today
THE NEW DÁIL convened today for the first time – with the election of the Taoiseach the main item on the agenda for the 158 TDs.
Of course, as could have been expected, no candidate was voted in as Taoiseach – and it’s expected talks on forming a government will take weeks, once today’s official proceedings have been dealt with.
These were the day’s main developments:
By the way, in a new departure for Leinster House Sile Seoige and political journalist Ken Murray are broadcasting live from the Plinth for Oireachtas TV.
You can watch it here (in another window, obviously – you won’t want to miss our wonderful coverage).
While we’re on the subject, RTÉ One goes on air with a news special just before 10.30am as proceedings get under way.
From Leinster House, Hugh O’Connell writes:
Outside it’s slightly surreal as the Leinster House ushers have prepared a security cordon for the newly-elected Taoiseach but of course, as we know, it’s likely that no Taoiseach will be elected today.
Of course, there’s a huge presence of journalists at the Dáil as well to cover all the new arrivals.
RTÉ’s Ailbhe Conneely caught this great snap of Roscommon-East Galway poll-topper Denis Naughten arriving back to work…
Danny Healy-Rae, newly elected in Kerry, has been speaking to Oireachtas TV.
“We were afraid we’d crash into each other on narrow roads,” Healy-Rae said of his campaign alongside his running mate and brother Michael, who was also elected.
His only regret is that their late father Jackie isn’t around to witness history being made today, he added.
Danny, a former councillor, was a late entrant to the race in Kerry. Michael, a TD since 2011, took over the seat when Jackie retired after serving since 1997.
More from Hugh from the Plinth:
“At the moment we know that four candidates will be proposed for Taoiseach this afternoon.
“Fine Gael is putting forward Enda Kenny, Micheál Martin will be Fianna Fáil’s nominee,
“Sinn Féin’s proposing Gerry Adams, while the AAA-PBP decided late last night to nominate Richard Boyd-Barrett.
“The Independent Alliance may also put someone forward although we spoke to one TD this morning who said they would not be in favour of the idea.
“Before all of that, there’s the election of Ceann Comhairle.”
More on those arrivals (it’s like the Oscars, except not at all)…
Some familiar faces from the Fine Gael ministerial ranks also returning…
So what exactly happens today. Here’s the official schedule of Dáil business…
(Of course – us again, the above is the official wording – this being the Dáil, things may not go quite according to schedule).
The 32nd Dáil is about to get under way.
The Clerk of the Dáil is about to call the house to order.
The Clerk is now reading the Proclamation summoning Dáil Éireann…
We’re already behind schedule, Hugh notes…
The Clerk is now reading the names of all the TDs elected to the 32nd Dáil.
So what will happen next?
For a run down on the plan for the day and what will likely happen afterwards check out this article.
But as to what happens in the next short while, here’s an excerpt:
“Seán Barrett has decided he’s had enough after five years of shouting and roaring at truculent TDs and trying to keep order. He is not seeking the position again. So a new Dáil chair must to be elected.
“The position will be filled by a secret ballot of TDs. Previously it was effectively in the gift of the government of the day, but this was changed under reforms introduced by the outgoing government earlier this year.
“Ceann Comhairle carries the considerable perk of automatic re-election to the next Dáil. Any TD is able to stand for the position provided they have been proposed by seven other deputies.”
These are the nominees for Ceann Comhairle:
Andrew Doyle, Wicklow (FG)
Bernard J. Durkan, Kildare North (FG)
Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin, Cavan-Monaghan (SF)
Seán Ó Fearghaíl, Kildare South (FF)
Maureen O’Sullivan, Dublin Central (Ind)
Andrew Doyle is setting out his case first, as the Ceann Comhairle nominees address the House.
Smaller groups should be given more speaking time in Dáil sessions in recognition of the election result, he says.
The Ceann Comhairle should also have more of a say in deciding the order of business…
Bernard Durkan, also of Fine Gael, now setting out why he should be in the big chair.
He raises the first laugh of the 32nd Dáil (let this day echo forth in history, etc…) by noting that it’s an odd speech for him to be making as he’s known as “more of an antagonist than a moderator”.
Durkan says TDs were send to the Dáil as messengers for the people, and that all have a responsibility to respond to voters.
He says he hopes he can justify the trust of the Dáil members who nominated him.
Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin up now…
He begins his address as Gaeilge, going on to say he believes he has the requisite “skills and natural disposition to serve in the role”.
The veteran Sinn Féin TD also talks up his committee experience and record of cooperation with other politicians and parties.
Seán Ó Fearghaíl of FF setting out his bid for office now.
He says new Ceann Comhairle and all TDs must ensure that chamber proceedings are “respectful, constructive” and conducted “in the interests of the Irish people”.
He also pays tribute to the outgoing Ceann Comhairle Sean Barrett for his dedication.
“We need to show we are listening to the electorate,” Maureen O’Sullivan, the Dublin Central independent, says as she addresses the chamber.
“I didn’t actively seek the nomination,” she says, adding that she was encouraged to put her name forward.
“Almost everything in life is done in a collaborative way,” O’Sullivan adds, noting that she believes she has demonstrated a record for cooperation and collaboration.
A secret ballot will now get under way for Ceann Comhairle, with TDs voting down the ballot in order of preference.
As TDs vote, let’s take a look at what outgoing Dáil chair Seán Barrett has had to put up with for the last five years.
“Leave the House.”
“LEAVE THE HOUSE.”
Members are being asked to collect their ballot papers for the Ceann Comhairle vote.
As officials aren’t quite familiar with all the new TDs yet, politicians are being asked to “identify yourself by name” before being given their papers.
It’s worth noting Bernard Durkan didn’t need any notes for his address to the chamber.
Maureen O’Sullivan’s speech was impressive too, mind.
Not that we have any actual say in this.
So how does the vote for Ceann Comhairle work?
Hugh has the low-down (from this more general article on what’s expected to happen today).
“Voting takes place using the PR-STV system, so TDs will mark candidates in order of preference. They will vote in the privacy of specially erected polling booths in the voting lobbies just off the Dáil chamber.
“Once all members have cast their votes the ballot will conclude and the Dáil will be suspended so the votes can be counted. The quota is 50% plus one. Theoretically, if all members vote correctly (no spoiled ballots) then the quota is 80. As soon as a candidate has reached this threshold, they are deemed elected.
The successful candidate’s name will be announced at the count centre, near the Seanad chamber. The Dáil resumes and the election of the new Ceann Comhairle is formally put to the house. If 30 members call for a division then a vote must take place, but if there are fewer than this then the candidate is formally elected.
As for what happens then?
The first thing the new Ceann Comhairle must do is seek nominations for the position of Taoiseach. In order for the Taoiseach to be elected they must command the support of the majority of the Dáil.
And that’s when things will get interesting…
TDs filing out to cast their votes…
Today’s sitting is expected to be suspended at around 12.20pm as counting gets under way.
So who are the new TDs?
We’ve been catching up with a few of them at TheJournal.ie in the last few days.
Gino Kenny is the new Anti Austerity Alliance-People Before Profit deputy for Dublin Mid-West…
Meanwhile Lisa Chambers took a second seat for Fianna Fáil in Mayo in the general election.
In her interview, the new TD told us she’s in favour of repealing the Eighth Amendment…
Aoife Barry with you now – and I give you… an impromptu Healy Rae concert:
(You will need to click through to Twitter to watch that, but we have a YouTube video on the way for you)
Danny is playing the accordion, and Michael’s on the uillean pipes:
Here it is in all its glory – the Healy-Rae seisiún outside Leinster House today.
We wonder what else we can expect now that the Healy-Rae brothers are in the Dáil together…
Some happy faces arriving at Leinster House this morning:
Back to the Ceann Comhairle vote - no candidate reached the quota on the first count – Deputy Bernard Durkan has been eliminated and his votes will be transferred.
Here’s how the voting played out:
Deputy Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin has been eliminated in the race for Ceann Comhairle:
Paul Hosford taking over from Aoife here.
The second count means that Maureen O’Sullivan needs all of Ó Caolain’s transfers to stay in.
Which she doesn’t get.
In count three, the independent candidate loses out. This means that it will be a showdown between Fine Gael’s Andrew Doyle and Fianna Fáil’s Séan O Fearghaill.
The first of many FG/FF showdowns in the coming weeks, one suspects.
We may not have an answer before 2.30pm, but it does look like Fianna Fáil’s Séan Ó Fearghaíl may pip Andrew Doyle to the Ceann Comhairle’s job.
I have my doubts about the veracity of this “fact”.
It will be Séan Ó Fearghaíl to chair the Dáil.
He becomes the first Ceann Comhairle elected by secret ballot.
Here are the full figures, as Ó Fearghaíl takes the seat without reaching the quota of 79.
The appointment of the Ceann Comhairle will require a final ratification, which will come at 2.30pm, when the Dáil resumes.
If this is legitimate, then that’s incredible. Please be legitimate.
A group of 17 TDs took in mass in St Andrew’s church on Westland Row this morning. Wonder what they prayed for.
Daragh Brophy back on duty for the afternoon – just back from staging an impromptu concert on Aungier Street, sadly nothing like as well-attended as this.
Hugh O’Connell is still down at Leinster House, meanwhile, where a water charge protest has been taking place this afternoon.
Several hundred people have been attending that water protest.
Here are some more scenes from outside the Dáil…
So, as we look toward this afternoon’s business, how does the vote for Taoiseach work?
Essentially, the TDs will vote on the various nominees – Enda, Micheál, Gerry, Richard Boyd-Barrett… – but it’s highly unlikely anyone will be elected.
Here’s an explanation from Hugh on what happens after that (again, check out his wider piece on this here):
“Assuming this happens, the Dáil will adjourn, by agreement, until another date. With the curtailed St Patrick’s Day ministerial exodus and Easter, this is likely to mean the Dáil will not sit again until April.
“Enda Kenny’s failure to win the confidence of the majority of TDs also means that he must visit the President and formally tender his resignation under Article 28.10 of the Constitution.
He then officially becomes caretaker Taoiseach of a caretaker government.
We’re back under way in the Dáil by the way.
Party leaders are congratulating the new Ceann Comhairle…
Lisa Chambers nominates her party leader for Taoiseach, as Jack Chambers (no relation) looks on.
Some laughs as Mary Lou McDonald tells the new Ceann Comhairle she looks forward to “harmonious relations” over the next few years.
Of course, the Sinn Féin deputy leader is on her feet to nominate Gerry Adams as Taoiseach.
He has “a vision that embraces this entire island,” McDonald says.
Fianna Fáil TD Timmy Dooley has said he’s okay in the wake of an attempted attack near Leinster House earlier.
The Clare TD was approached by a person on Molesworth Street near the gates of the Dáil.
The would-be attacker grabbed his tie and attempted to swing a punch.
His party colleague Billy Kelleher intervened but he was also attacked.
Dooley confirmed in a text to TheJournal.ie he was “grand” after the incident.
Ruth Coppinger now nominating Richard Boyd-Barrett as Taoiseach.
She says her party will not vote for the “identical twin” candidates of FF or FG, and also criticises Sinn Féin.
Coppinger concedes Boyd-Barrett won’t win the vote, but says they’re nominating him to make a wider point.
The Dáil looks a lot smaller in real life than it does on the television, new AAA-PBP TD Brid Smith observes as she seconds Boyd-Barrett.
“I have to say I feel quite tall today.”
There are no further nominations for Taoiseach.
Seamus Healy of Workers and Unemployed Action has asked to contribute…
The Tipperary TD raises the hospital crisis and says the new Dáil must take a “radically different course” to the last one.
Joan Burton now on her feet.
Joan says there’s “an onus on other parties to step forward in the national interest, not sit back”.
The Tánaiste takes a swipe at “Sinn Féin and the ultra left” and says they’re “not remotely serious” about acting in the national interest.
The Labour leader calls on FF to step up, noting that they have the numbers to form a government with Fine Gael.
Joan Burton now talking up Labour’s achievements in government as she continues her address.
Burton says Labour put the country first since 2011 and says she has no regrets despite the losses incurred in last month’s election.
“We’re going to vote against all four nominees,” Greens leader Eamon Ryan says.
Ryan says it may be time for the Civil War divide to come to an end.
No point in setting up some kind of “short term arrangement” that everyone knows will fail, Ryan adds.
The Green Party leader ends with a passionate contribution on environmental issues. He’s looking right at home, in his first Dáil appearance since 2011.
Sinéad O’Carroll here now, taking over from Daragh.
The new Ceann Comhairle is having to deal with the first bits of rowdiness as Sinn Féin’s Pearse Doherty makes a passionate speech about the housing, homeless and hospital crises.
Doherty doesn’t just take issue with Enda Kenny though.
He says he doesn’t trust Micheál Martin either because he had to go to court to ensure a by-election was held in his constituency of Donegal back in 2010 – a vote he went on to win.
And he sits down on that note to a round of applause.
The first person elected in the 2016 general election, Shane Ross is now having his say on the vote for Taoiseach.
He puts Fine Gael “on notice” that he will be watching what they do to ensure the message from the electorate
“You cannot simply unite to block radical reform in this country,” he said, but then adds that the Independent Alliance is willing to help or join a government that will look at reforms in all aspects of life.
He echoes Doherty when he asks why a committee on Dáil reform has been set up, but not ones on issues that matter to the Irish people.
In calm, soothing tones Seán Ó Feargháil asks TDs to not repeat each other’s points, no matter how valid.
So, that’s what David Cullinane has to try and do now as he stands up to talk in the chamber for the first time. The former senator was elected for Sinn Féin in Waterford.
But he doesn’t stick to the rules and he’s called out by the Ceann Comhairle for singling out Labour and Joan Burton.
Danny Healy-Rae is making his maiden Dáil speech, still seems surprised to be there.
Four weeks ago today I had no idea, or wouldn’t have dreamt, that I’d be addressing members of Dáil Éireann in the 32nd Dáil.
He goes on to ask that the parties hurry up and hammer out a government deal. He says he won’t be voting for a Taoiseach today.
Sounds like zero craic.
Labour’s Brendan Howlin is speaking now about reform.
In case you’re wondering, what’s happening now is effectively any TD who wants to speak can speak and can speak for any amount of time.
Another maiden speech, this time from Sinn Féin’s Louise O’Reilly.
The Dublin North TD says she will not be voting for Enda Kenny or Micheál Martin for Taoiseach because their parties have,
kicked the heart out of public services.
Tweed? Check. Glasses? Check. Faint hint of beard? Check.
The vote for Enda Kenny as Taoiseach is coming now. Bells ring around Leinster House.
They’ll be voting in about 10 minutes before it’s all official. Enda Kenny’s not going to be Taoiseach, yet.
There they are now, voting for or against Kenny. Make sure to go through the right door.
While we’re waiting, here’s an odd one.
Either somebody’s tweeting on new TD Bríd Smith’s behalf, or we’ve elected our first deputy with the power of bi-location.
She’s in a ‘dung heap’, apparently.
Enda Kenny loses vote to be Taoiseach by 37 votes.
Now that’s it’s all official and Enda Kenny has lost the vote to be Taoiseach in the new Dáil, here’s what set to happen next.
They’re currently voting on Micheál Martin’s nomination for Taoiseach but in the now likely event that none of them are elected Taoiseach and no government can be formed, Kenny will tender his resignation as Taoiseach to President Michael D Higgins later.
Every single Fianna Fáil leader has been Taoiseach except Micheal Martin, TDs are now voting on whether he can keep that run going.
It won’t happen today of course, but they still have to cross the Ts and dot the Is.
There’s the man himself, I wonder how he’ll vote?
As members file through the correct door to vote on Micheál Martin’s nomination, it’s a chance to rub shoulders with one another.
Here’s Enda Kenny and Stephen Donnelly doing just that, nice to be a fly-on-the-wall by that conversation.
And it’s a ‘No’ for Micheál Martin too, no shock there. Motion defeated by 65 votes.
Taoiseach Gerry Adams? The Dáil is voting on that right now. About another ten minutes before we’re informed of the inevitable.
Gerry Adams will not be Taoiseach after the vote on his nomination was also defeated. There were 16 abstentions.
A slight slip of the tongue there by new Ceann Comhairle Seán Ó Feargháil, putting the next vote to the house as ‘Richard Boyd-Barrett for President’.
It is, of course, for Taoiseach. He corrected himself sharpish in fairness.
We’ve a prankster in the house. I’ll give you one guess…. or maybe two now.
As we wait on the results for the vote on RBB’s nomination. Here’s some more light relief.
It’s now official the first day of the 32nd Dáil has failed to elect a new Taoiseach.
Richard Boyd-Barrett’s nomination has been defeated.
Enda Kenny is now speaking, confirms that he will be resigning as Taoiseach.
He will, however, continue as caretaker Taoiseach and his ministers will remain in place.
Let me assure the Irish people that the government remains in place and that I and my cabinet colleagues will continue to work hard on behalf of the Irish people.
Kenny speaks about the upcoming challenges facing politicians.
He makes a specific reference to the upcoming ‘Brexit’ vote, a referendum he says will have “huge implications” for Ireland
It may well not have been an issue on the doors in the recent election, it is an issue that is coming at us and the implications are not to be underestimated.
Enda Kenny also says that Fine Gael has been “deeply involved” in negotiations with smaller parties since the election in a bid to form a new government.
Kenny notes the increased number of women in the Dáil, says he hopes it will increase further in the future.
‘I know there was controversy about how that came about, in relation to quotas and so on… whether that was a help or not, all those who are here are here in their own right.’
After the the Dáil went through the motions in rejecting four votes for Taoiseach, it’s now back to business as normal, almost.
Pearse Doherty asks why Sinn Féin motions relating to Irish Water cannot be debated today. He says they were sent in a ‘timely manner’.
New Ceann Comhairle Seán Ó Feargháil says it was a matter of timing.
Micheal Martin says that TDs have “an obligation” to resolve issues brought up during the election campaign.
Continuing what has been Fianna Fáil’s thrust since the election, Martin is focusing his remarks on reform.
He says that the focus is too often on ‘who holds power, rather than what you do with it’.
“The situation after this vote is not exceptional,” says Martin. “The situation now is as it was before – each of us has an obligation to work on behalf of the people who elected us and on behalf of our country. “
Ah, we’re all guilty of a bit of that in fairness.
Sinn Féin leader Gerry Adams begins speaking and there is much heckling in the benches across from him.
Seán Ó Fearghail quitens them down, he better get used to doing it.
Gerry Adams says since the election there’s been a domination if the media by the ‘shadow boxing between Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil.’
He is raising a range of issues, including water charge, Nama, hospital trolleys and more.
After Gerry Adams we had John Halligan and now Seamus Healy.
TDs are speaking about nothing and everything as the benches start to empty out. Normal service resumed you might say.
Seamus Healy says he hopes Dáil reform will mean nobody will be excluded from speaking.
Ceann Comhairle: Nobody has been stopped from speaking today.
Sinéad O’Carroll back again as we continue to hear the first speeches of the 32nd Dáil.
Just in time to hear Richard Boyd-Barrett to call for an end to civil war politics. He’s sitting next to new TDs Bríd Smith and Gino Kenny.
He says that he’s not fond of the idea of a Fine Gael/Fianna Fáil government but says it is their responsibility to form a coalition or say now why they won’t.
Does this surprise any of us?
Parties are now trying to table motions – one from Sinn Féin is on Irish Water and the idea of abolishing water charges on 22 March.
The chair says it seems premature to table policy motions ahead of the formation of a government.
Micheál Martin appoints himself Mr Common Sense of the house and says there needs to be order on motions – adding that water charge changes need to be made through legislation, not substantive motions.
That hasn’t resolved much though… we’re still going!
It’s getting a *little* interesting now. Pearse Doherty has called for a vote on whether the house should return on Tuesday morning to debate the possibility of abolishing water charges.
He denies claims that he is bullying the Ceann Comhairle.
We’re still not clear what motions can be made and when.
Ó Fearghail admits he’s a novice and that he’s getting to grips with his new job.
Running out of energy in all quarters…
Mary Lou McDonald is up now. She says she is surprised the new Ceann Comhairle is “slavish” to the establishment in not taking the motion.
She accuses him of trying to get Irish Water off the agenda.
Ó Fearghail asks the Taoiseach if he wants to speak.
Enda Kenny says that there is already an agreement to return on 22 March for three issues – one of which is homelessness but no water.
“Can I ask you to take your seat please? x 5
Ó Fearghail is starting to sound a little like someone we got to know very well recently.
After all that, we *ARE* voting on whether to discuss water charges on 22 March.
Paul Murphy got his way after tabling his motion.
And that’s that.
After their first day back without agreeing on a Taoiseach, TDs leave and won’t be back until Tuesday week.
In the meantime acting Taoiseach will head to Washington for the usual St. Patrick’s day pleasantries at the White House. We’d imagine there’ll be more behind the scenes talk between various parties too.
In the end there was no vote on whether to discuss water charges on the 22 March. The issue is unlikely to disappear anytime soon though.
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