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TDs will return to the Dáil for the second day since the general election. Shutterstock/noel bennett
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The Dáil is back today to discuss Covid-19, but there will be no vote for the next Taoiseach

TDs are to speak for over six hours on the issues later this afternoon.

THE DÁIL WILL sit today for the second time since the general election. 

Today’s agenda in Leinster House is set to be dominated by a discussion on the outbreak of Covid-19.

TDs are to speak for over six hours on the issues later this afternoon. 

Six cases have been diagnosed so far in the Republic of Ireland – a male pupil at a Dublin school, a female in the east of the country and four people in the west of the country believed to be in the same family. Three cases have been diagnosed in Northern Ireland to date. 

The contact tracing process for most of the cases in the Republic of Ireland is still underway.

“Given that Covid-19 is a new disease it is understandable that its emergence may give rise to anxiety and fear among the general public. These factors can also give rise to harmful stereotypes,” Dr Tony Holohan, the chief medical officer at the Department of Health said. 

This virus knows no borders or race. Restricting travel into Ireland does not form a component of our current response. We must continue to focus on ensuring that everyone is informed and knows what to do in the event they develop symptoms. 

While the St Patrick’s Festival has not been cancelled, Minister for Health Simon Harris has said all matters are being monitored on a daily and hourly basis. 

The Dáil agenda today will be dominated by discussions about the public health and coronavirus, and there will also be a focus on government formation. 

Both Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael are to hold parliamentary party meetings today. The meeting of TDs and senators comes a day after both parties sat down for a one-day “policy exchange” yesterday. 

Following yesterday’s meeting, Fianna Fail’s Michael McGrath said his party stands ready to take the next step and begin government formation talks with Fine Gael. 

However, Minister Paschal Donohoe told reporters yesterday evening that Fine Gael’s position remains unchanged and it’s preferred place is on the opposition benches. 

While pressure is on to form a government, there will be no vote for the next Taoiseach today. 

Labour’s Brendan Howlin called for a second vote on who should be the next Taoiseach to be held today. 

At a previous meeting of the Dáil Business Committee, despite protests by Sinn Féin’s Aengus Ó Snodaigh, a decision was made not to hold a vote because there was not enough progress made in government formation talks. 

However, some TDs have argued that not holding a vote stalls momentum and urgency to get a government formed. 

There had been speculation that one of the parties might submit an application for the vote to go ahead. However, no submission was made to the Business Committee.

On the first day of the 33rd Dáil, Sinn Féin’s Mary Lou McDonald received the most votes to become the next Taoiseach. 

However, despite receiving 45 votes, both Fine Gael, Fianna Fáil, and other smaller parties, such as the Green Party voted against McDonald in greater numbers, with 84 voting against her and 29 abstentions. 

Fine Gael’s Leo Varadkar got 36 votes in favour of him continuing as Taoiseach, with 107 votes against and 16 abstentions.

There were 41 votes in favour of Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin becoming Taoiseach, with 97 against and 19 abstentions.

Green Party leader Eamon Ryan received 12 votes in favour of him as Taoiseach, with 115 votes against and 28 TDs abstaining. 

The Dáil will adjourn at 8.30pm tonight. It is not expected to return until after the Taoiseach and eight ministers return from their St Patrick’s Day trips in the US and Europe. 

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