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ALMOST TWO WEEKS after the country went to the polls, the 33rd Dáil sat for the first time today.

TD’s voted to elect a Taoiseach and, as expected, Leo Varadkar, Micheál Martin, Mary Lou McDonald and Eamon Ryan were all rejected by the house.

The Fine Gael leader will travel to Áras an Uachtaráin to tender his resignation but will remain in place, along with the current cabinet, until a new Taoiseach is elected.

McDonald racked up the most votes as several independent and Solidarity-People Before Profit TDs backed the Sinn Féin leader.

Seán Ó Fearghaíl was re-elected as Ceann Comhairle.

Here’s some other pieces to get you up to speed:

So here we are. 

The only thing that’ll definitely happen today is the election of a new Ceann Comhairle.

It’s Fianna Fáil’s Seán Ó Feargháil – who has done the job since 2016 – against independent Denis Naughten. 

If Ó Feargháil wins, it’ll mean Sinn Féin and Fianna Fáil would now be level in terms of the number of seats it has in the Dáil. 

Our political correspondent Christina Finn has more details on all of that for you here

What else should we keep an eye out for today?

Well the Healy-Raes made quite the entrance on the first day the Dáil sat in 2016.

Source: TheJournal.ie/YouTube

Our reporter Rónán Duffy is also down outside Leinster House.

He’s been speaking to Sinn Féin’s new TD for Roscommon-Galway Claire Kerrane.

She said: “I’ve been in here for the past three years working but today is a different capacity. I’m looking forward to it… It’s a great day for everyone.”

And Michael Healy Rae has been speaking to Rónán Duffy outside Leinster House. 

“The real negotiations will start to take place after the election of the Ceann Comhairle,” he says. 

“I hope over the coming days and weeks we start to see the emergence of a new government.”

Independent for Cork South West TD Michael Collins has also turned up and made an impromptu speech outside Leinster House.

Says that any politician who dares to turn their back on the people will have people turn on them also.

TDs do love to make their mark on their first day in the Dáil.

Spare a thought for Mary Mitchell O’Connor today, who inadvertently drove over the Dáil plinth on her first day in Leinster House in 2011.

There’s another new arrival across the city today.

And it’s a new baby rhino in Dublin Zoo.

Ain’t he lovely?

REPRO_FREE_DZ_RHINO_04 (1) Source: Patrick Bolger

Green Party TDs – and husband and wife – Catherine Martin and Francis Noel Duffy have arrived at Leinster House with their three children. 

They say they’re going to have to strike a work-life balance.

And Sinn Féin has arrived to a massive media scrum.

ERNxFemXkAY7l-i Source: Christina Finn/TheJournal.ie

Mary Lou McDonald is speaking to reporters.

Unlikely to be elected Taoiseach today, she’s said that she’s expected at least 37 votes from her party colleagues for the top job.

Without abstentions, 80 votes would be needed to become Taoiseach.

Danny Healy Rae has an accordion and is banging out a tune.

Updates to follow.

We’re just a few minutes away now until it all gets under way.

Firstly, the Clerk of the Dáil will read the Proclamation summoning Dáil Éireann,

Then the announcements of the members elected.

We won’t have the Ceann Comhairle election until around 12.25.

And then there’s a long-day ahead. Potential Taoisigh are nominated from 3.15pm and that vote held this evening. 

Our political correspondent Christina Finn has just informed me that a bird pooed on new Social Democrat TD Gary Gannon on his way in the door.

Good luck for him for the next Dáil term so!

The Healy Raes are sitting in the same spot as they did in the last Dáil.

Micheál Martin is deep in conversation. Leo Varadkar hasn’t arrived yet.



The clerk of the Dáil has arrived, we’ve a full house and we’re under way.

He says a prayer as Gaeilge and then in English.

A lot of initial formalities to get through now in the next few minutes.

Leo Varadkar and Simon Coveney just had a little joke about something, but I didn’t screenshot them laughing fast enough.

leo simon

So he’s about to issue writs for election of members and the announcement of members returned.

It’s basically listing the people elected. 

Here’s a live video of proceedings here.

They’re going alphabetically by constituency. 

We’re on the Cs.

It could take a while.

Here’s some more of the photos from outside Leinster House prior to the start of proceedings today.

2949 Dail Returns Source: Leah Farrell/Rollingnews.ie

5635 Dail Returns Source: Leah Farrell/Rollingnews.ie

5459 Dail Returns Source: Leah Farrell/Rollingnews.ie

The next item of business is the selection of the Ceann Comhairle, via secret ballot.

It’s Seán Ó Feargháil vs Denis Naughten. As the incumbent Ceann Comhairle, Ó Feargháil may be best placed to retain the role. 

They’re both allowed to have a say first.

Naughten first.

denis naughten

Naughten welcomes the new TDs in the Dáil and says older heads can “share their experience”.

“I understand every perspective in this house because I have lived it,” he says. 

“I’ve been more than happy over the years to provide advice and assistance to new members, regardless of views.”

He says he’s putting his name forward because of the frustration over accountability he found on the doorsteps during the campaign.

“Getting straight answers to straight questions is getting more difficult in Dáil Éireann.”

naughten 2

Naughten says civil servants must be accountable to Dáil Éireann.

He says that in the case of the HSE, the only method of accountability is the Oireachtas Joint Committee on Health or parliamentary questions that can take weeks.

“Sometimes the very last person to know is the TD whose constituents are directly affected,” he says.

Naughten says that GDPR is being used to avoid answering legitimate questions of TDs.

“It would be an honour to be Ceann Comhairle,” he says, saying it’d be a greater honour to allow TDs to seek answers and provide greater accountability. 

sean o f

Here’s Seán Ó Feargháil now. He congratulates the new members of the Dáil, as well as Dáil clerk Peter Finnegan and his team.

Of Naughten, he says competition is an “essential part of the democratic process”. 

Today he says he seeks a renewal of that mandate “hoping [his] work” over the last four years has shown his commitment to delivering essential reform.

Says the last Dáil was conducted in a more “collegiate” manner than ever before. 

sean o f 2

Ó Feargháil says he has helped build structures to help members in the drafting of legislation.

Other “absolutely critical” all-party committees on health, on housing and on the Travelling community has seen “us work well for common cause”, he says.

“We have engaged with the youth of this nation on the crucial issue of climate change,” he says. 

“I seek your support this afternoon to continue that collegiate approach,” he says. 

“We have challenges… I seek to build on the relationships made, the friendships formed,” Ó Feargháil.

“We’ve much important work left to undertake,” he closes, asking for members to vote for him as Ceann Comhairle.

Everyone claps. 

The bells are going to ring for six minutes now. After another four minutes, the secret ballot will commence.

clerk 1

Thanks Sean! Cónal Thomas here folks taking over from my colleague for the next while. 

Before the secret ballots commences, TDs take a minute to chat amongst themselves. There’s Tánaiste Simon Coveney speaking with outgoing Labour Party leader Brendan Howlin. 

Capture Source: conalt

So what happens now?

Well, 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.

Once 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.

No other Dáil business may be conducted until a Ceann Comhairle is elected. 

Still plenty of milling about going on in the Dáil chamber. The voting is about to get underway. 


The doors are about to be closed. 

Before the voting begins, the Dáil clerk asks for confirmation that the ballot boxes are empty. There’s the Captain of the Guard checking now. 

And…they’re empty. 


TDs will now be issued with a ballot paper each and they’ll then proceed to the voting booths, eight of which are dotted around the chamber. 

Once they’re finished casting their votes, TDs must return to their seats. 

And off they go. 


As voting continues, here’s a look back to Danny Healy-Rae and Co. entertaining the troops outside Leinster House earlier today. 

5572 Healy Rae Source: Leah Farrell/RollingNews.ie

As TDs continue to cast their ballots, can you name the first ever Ceann Comhairle? 

That’s right, it was revolutionary leader Cathal Brugha, who served for only one day, presiding over the house’s symbolic first meeting, before leaving the post to become President of Dáil Eireann. 


So, the Dáil won’t be back until 3.10pm when we’ll know the result of the ballot to elect a Ceann Comhairle. 

The first business for the Ceann Comhairle is to seek nominations for the position of Taoiseach later today. 

The Ceann Comhairle will usually ask a member of the largest party in the House to nominate their party leader for the position of Taoiseach.

There’s Dáil Clerk Peter Finnegan with his staff now, readying for the counting of votes. 


Dáil Clerk Peter Finnegan says it’s time to count the votes for Ceann Comhairle. 


Micheál Martin sums up the people’s wishes – “They want action on housing, they want action on health and to alleviate the pressures people are under and they want to deal with the crisis of our generation, climate change.”

Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin sums up the people’s wishes – “They want action on housing, they want action on health and to alleviate the pressures people are under and they want to deal with the crisis of our generation, climate change.”

Ó Feargháil received 130 votes with Naughten receiving 28 votes.  

The Ceann Comhairle is the chair of the Dáil and is expected to observe strict impartiality and keep order in the house.

Whoever is elected to the role is automatically re-elected to the next Dáil.

Ó Feargháil was Ceann Comhairle of the 32nd Dáil and was the first to be elected by secret ballot in 2016. Previously, the government of the day would simply choose who would take up the role. 

He was the first Fianna Fáil Ceann Comhairle to be elected since Seámus Kirk who held the post in the 30th Dáil between 2009 and 2011.

My colleague Christina Finn, meanwhile, has been chatting to TDs ahead of today’s vote on choosing a Taoiseach. 

Down at Leinster House, TD Richard Boyd Barrett has said that Solidarity-People Before Profit will vote for Mary Lou McDonald for Taoiseach.

“Our view is that there was a political earthquake that happened in this election and that earthquake demanded that there was a break in the cycle of Fianna Fail and Fine Gael rule,” he said.

“We think the only way to give effect to that clear demand of people is to establish a left minority government and the only realistic way of doing that would involve supporting Mary Lou McDonald as Taoiseach and ruling out any deals with Fianna Fail or Fine Gael to form a government.

“On that basis we are going to vote for Mary Lou McDonald as Taoiseach, but we want to make it clear we are not giving her a blank cheque, we are doing this in order to give effect to the demand to break the cycle of Fianna Fail and Fine Gael.

“We hope she will take our support in order to rule out any possible deal with Fianna Fail and Fine Gael.”

It’s all go down there today. 

And we’re back. 

Fianna Fáil TD Seán Ó Feargháil has been re-elected Ceann Comhairle and dons the robes for another term. 


After taking the chair Ó Feargháil gave a brief history of the Ceann Comhairle robes. He told the house that they were once the subject of a Freedom of Information request which found that they were so old that nobody knew who much they cost and they had never been dry cleaned.

Party leaders are now congratulating Ó Feargháil on his reelection. The Green Party’s Eamon Ryan thanked him for being an excellent Ceann Comhairle, noting that he never kicked anyone out during his first term. 

Ryan did offer a small bit of criticism, joking that Ó Feargháil has reduced the length of the minute of silence to about 11 seconds.

Leo Varadkar is the final person to congratulate Ó Feargháil. Introducing him, the Ceann Comhairle said: “A bit like the wedding feast of Cana, we now go to the Taoiseach”.

“I didn’t realise the Taoiseach was at the wedding feast of Cana,” Varadkar quipped in response.

Ó Feargháil thanked all the contributors for their kind words, saying he had to pinch himself at one point because he thought he was dead.

We’re now on to nominating people for Taoiseach and Fine Gael’s Bernard Durkan, the oldest member of the house, has nominated Leo Varadkar to continue in the role.

“He has discharged that office in the past with distinction, with honour, with courage,” Durkan said.


Making her maiden address to the Dáil, Fianna Fáil’s Norma Foley said she is “proud beyond measure” to nominate Micheál Martin for Taoiseach.

“If you look fairly at his record you will see that he has already achieved far more positive change than his loudest critics could ever hope to match,” she said.


Martin’s nomination was seconded by the youngest member of the 33rd Dáil. 22-year-old James O’Connor, TD for Cork East.

Sinn Féin’s Pearse Doherty has nominated Mary Lou McDonald for the position of Taoiseach, giving an impassioned speech as gaeilge. 

“Nobody in this Dáil can lead this government for change other than Mary Lou McDonald,” he said.

Above all else she is an Irish republican and at this time that is what we need.

Claire Kerrane seconded McDonald’s nomination.

“As a republican woman there is no one I admire more than Mary Lou McDonald,” Kerrane said.

“We need change, we need something new, we need Mary Lou.”


The nominations continue with Dublin Fingal TD Joe O’Brien putting Green Party leader Eamon Ryan forward. “Eamon incapsulates a spirit that is essential for the 33rd Dáil if it is to succede,” O’Brien said.

Joan Collins of Independents 4 Change, Mick Barry of Solidarity–People Before Profit, Paul Murphy of RISE and independents Thomas Pringle and Catherine Connolly have told the chamber they will be backing Mary Lou McDonald for Taoiseach.

So the Sinn Féin leader looks set to secure the most votes later today.

The sitting is continuing with a range of politicians having their say on the election and the government formation talks.

Kerry TD Michael Healy-Rae congratulated Sinn Féin on taking the initiative and trying to form a government. 

Richard Boyd Barrett confirmed that People Before Profit will also back McDonald.

Róisín Shortall said the Social Democrats would not be backing any of the candidates because it would be “meaningless” to do so without a programme for government agreed upon.

Several more TDs are in line to speak before the Dáil votes on the four nominations for Taoiseach. 

Danny Healy-Rae is currently paying tribute to his “army” of volunteers that helped him get reelected.

The story in the local papers was that Fianna Fáil smelled my blood. Well I still have all my blood… they were on the wrong scent.

Fianna Fáil’s John McGuinness said the Dáil should not adjourn for two weeks after today’s sitting. He also said that no party should be left out of the discussion about the future of the country.

Here’s more from our political correspondent Christina Finn in Leinster House:

Limerick independent Richard O’Donoghue has made a memorable maiden speech in Leinster House.

“How many of ye here have education of life? How many of ye have common sense? I do believe that an ounce of cop-on is better than a stone of brains,” he said.

O’Donoghue also demanded that the next government respects rural Ireland.

Ceann Comhairle Seán Ó Fearghaíl has revealed that there are nine further speakers before voting can take place. He urged the remaining speakers to be mindful that the voting will take some time as well.

We’ll be here for a while yet.

Thank God for European football on pretty miserable Thursday nights.

And thank Uefa for staggering the kick-offs between 5.55pm and 8pm.

Our opening act is Manchester United’s trip to the Jan Breydel Stadium as they on Pro League leaders Club Brugge.

Can a reshuffled United side build on Monday night’s win over Chelsea?

Kick-off is in 10 minutes; we’ll have the team news in a moment.

Fianna Fáil’s Jennifer Murnane O’Connor has quoted CS Lewis saying: “There are far, far better things ahead than any we leave behind.”

Hopefully she was talking about this Dáil sitting.

Kerry TD Brendan Griffin has welcomed all the new deputies to the Dáil by noting that many eminent writers have been quoted in the chamber today.

“I’m going to quote Axel Rose,” he said. “Welcome to the jungle.”

The Fine Gael junior minister also hinted that the 33rd Dáil might be a short lived one. “We don’t know whether to put the posters in front of, or behind, the turf shed yet,” he said.

Griffin also referred to an earlier contribution from his fellow Kerry TD Danny Healy-Rae, who said that he had 162 volunteers out canvassing for him on one night during the election campaign. Griffin said he had 163 people out on the same evening.

A busy night in Kerry.

Independent TD for Galway West Noel Grealish says he “will not sit on the fence” this evening and will vote in favour of Fianna Fáil’s Micheál Martin for Taoiseach.

“People want us to get on with it and form a government,” the former Progressive Democrat said.

Independent Waterford TD Matt Shanahan said he will not be supporting any of the four candidates for Taoiseach as a mark of protest over restrictions on cardiac services in the south east.

Contributions from deputies are expected to wrap up soon after which we’ll have a four votes on Taoiseach candidates.

To catch up on all the antics as 48 new TDs entered the Dáil for the first time check out this piece from Rónán Duffy:

Fianna Fáil’s Mary Butler was the final speaker ahead of the votes. Varadkar is first up. If, as expected, he is not elected he will travel to Áras an Uachtaráin to tender his resignation. 

The chamber is filling up and the result of the vote on Leo Varadkar for Taoiseach is expected shortly.

Fine Gael only has 35 TDs so he’s expected to fall far short of the required 80 votes.


Deputies are now filing through the lobbies. There’s quite a bit of a backlog in the Níl lobby so the vote on Varadkar for Taoiseach looks set to be comfortably defeated.


The result is: 

Tá – 36

Níl – 107

The proposal on Varadkar for Taoiseach has been defeated.

TheJournal.ie‘s political correspondent Christina Finn reports that the Social Democrats abstained from the vote, as did independent TDs Cathal Berry and Pat Shanahan.

Galway East independent Sean Canney backed Varadkar, bringing his number up to 36. 

Varadkar will travel to Áras an Uachtaráin to tender his resignation but will remain in place until a new Taoiseach is elected.

TD’s are now voting on Micheál Martin for Taoiseach. Again this vote looks set to be comfortably defeated.

Independent Noel Grealish earlier indicated that he would join the 37 Fianna Fáil TDs in backing Martin.



Tá – 41

Níl – 97

Abstentions – 19

Not near enough to see Martin elected. The house will now vote on McDonald.

Meanwhile, away from Taoiseach votes, a new technical parliamentary grouping has been established.

Nine TDs from across the country have agreed to come together to establish ‘The Regional Group’.

the group’s members are: Cathal Berry, Sean Canney, Peter Fitzpatrick, Noel Grealish, Michael Lowry, Verona Murphy, Denis Naughten, Matt Shanahan and Peadar Toibin.

Convener Denis Naughten said:

This group will operate as a technical group in Dáil Eireann for speaking time and the scheduling of parliamentary business.

“The group was established following the decision by Dáil Eireann today to establish a business committee to progress the day-to-day operation of parliamentary business.”

The result of the vote on McDonald for Taoiseach is in:

Tá – 45

Níl – 84

Abstentions – 29

McDonald racked up more votes than her Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael counterparts, who got 41 and 36 respectively.

It still isn’t anywhere near enough to see her elected.

Scenes in Leinster House as we nearly had an accidental Taoiseach. Virgin Media’s Gavan Reilly has the news:

The result of the vote on Ryan for Taoiseach is in:

Tá – 12

Níl – 115

Abstentions – 28

No Taoiseach has been elected in the first sitting of the 33rd Dáil.

The four defeated nominees will now make contributions. Seán Ó Fearghaíl asked them to be mindful that we are running way over time.

Varadkar is speaking first. When this sitting finishes he will travel to Áras an Uachtaráin to tender his resignation.


Varadkar says he will travel to the White House for the annual St Patrick’s Day visit if no government has been formed by then.

However, he says it will be a shortened trip as the Taoiseach will have to travel back to Europe to attend an important EU Council meeting.

He paid tribute to the ministers who lost their seats in the election but said he knows they will continue to lead their departments with “good grace and competence”.

So that’s it from the first day of the 33rd Dáil. It was a day that saw 48 new TDs attend Leinster House for the first time, but a new government still looks quite a distance away.

The house will reconvene in early March and the political horse trading will continue in public and behind the scenes.

Check out TheJournal.ie for all the important developments and thanks for following this evening.

3033 Dail Returns Source: RollingNews.ie

Micheál Martin dedicated a significant chunk of his remarks to criticising Sinn Féin, accusing the party of glorifying the IRA.

“I see we still live rent free in Micheál Martin’s very narrow and bitter mind,” McDonald said in an equally lengthty and excoriating response.

“I have significant concerns with a leader who sat around a cabinet table with people who were subsequently jailed for corruption,” she added.


So that’s it from the first day of the 33rd Dáil. It was a day that saw 48 new TDs attend Leinster House for the first time, but a new government still looks quite a distance away.

The house will reconvene in early March and the political horse trading will continue in public and behind the scenes.

Check out TheJournal.ie for all the important developments and thanks for following this evening.

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