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As it happened: Taoiseach Micheál Martin confirms his Cabinet line-up in the Dáil

The nation went to the polls nearly five months ago. Today, we have a new government.

LAST UPDATE | 27 Jun 2020

MICHEÁL MARTIN WAS elected Taoiseach today after a 93 to 63 vote by members of the 33rd Dáil. 

Earlier, President Michael D Higgins signed his warrant of appointment, officially appointing Martin as Taoiseach.

This evening the Fianna Fáil leader revealed his new Cabinet and his 11 Seanad nominees.

Good morning, and welcome to our rolling coverage of Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael deciding to put their old differences aside and lead the country together for the first time since this happened… 

Broadsheet Ie / YouTube

It’s Daragh Brophy kicking things off on our liveblog this morning. Our political correspondent Christina Finn is in situ at the Convention Centre. 

(I’m aware the gag in my first update is incredibly over-simplistic by the way – apologies to any historians. And cinema lovers.)

Some more from Christina:

The bells are ringing now for TDs to take their seats.

Dáil members have been gathering for the last few minutes in the foyer. Politicians from all parties have been shooting the breeze – and they all looked relieved that the last 140 days are over.

Micheál Martin has arrived and has a big smile on his face – no surprise, obviously, as he’s set to be the next Taoiseach.

Leo Varadkar was just spotted queuing for coffee and breakfast alongside the likes of Dara Calleary (FF) and Mattie McGrath (Ind).

Oh, and one TD who could be a minister soon just politely indicated to me that I have lipstick on my teeth.

So how will things work today?


It’s set to be a long one.

The sitting is set to begin any minute now and the proposer and seconder for each nominee for the position of Taoiseach will get five minutes speaking time each.

Ten minutes of speeches from each party or group will follow.

Sinn Féin are expected to propose Mary Lou McDonald as Taoiseach, but due to the numbers, she won’t get the most votes.

Votes will then be taken and it is expected that Martin will be elected as the Taoiseach of the 33rd Dáil.

The FF leader will then give a speech, before heading off to visit President Micheal D Higgins in Áras an Uachtaráin where he will be given his seal of office. This is expected to take place at around 12.30pm.

Once he has received his seal, Martin will then travel to Government Buildings where he will appoint his new Cabinet.

Speculation is rife about who will get the top jobs but there are only so many seats to go around.

Fianna Fáil will have six full Cabinet posts, as will Fine Gael, and the Greens will get three.

Once everyone has been told what their new jobs are, it is back to the Convention Centre where the Dáil is expected to sit again at 6.30pm.

The new ministers will be nominated and Micheál Martin will make another speech upon the appointment of his new Cabinet.

After this takes place, the leaders of the other parties and groups will have an opportunity to give their thoughts on the new government and the selected ministers will also say a few words.

Votes will then be taken on the new Cabinet members before they all travel to Áras an Uachtaráin to receive their seals of office and hold their first Cabinet meeting.

More from Christina: 

Two FF TDs came back inside the cafe here to leave their coffee cups.

I asked why thinking maybe you couldn’t bring them out to the chamber.

The cups have ‘I’m a green cup’ written on them – so they joked with me that maybe that photo wouldn’t look best in the newspapers.

Micheál Martin has just entered the chamber here.

FF TD Norma Foley is now nominating Micheál Martin for Taoiseach.

She notes it has nearly been five months since the election.

“These have been difficult months,” she says.

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Pearse Doherty is now proposing Mary Lou McDonald. 

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Mary Lou McDonald acknowleges in her speech that today is not her day and wishes Martin well during his time in office. 

She also puts the new coalition on notice that SF will hold them to account from the opposition benches and doesn’t miss the opportunity to put the boot into FF and FG for excluding her party from talks. 

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Leo Varadkar speaking now. 

He points out that the three parties entering government gained a majority of support in the election. 

He’s looking forward to the new term, he says. 

And he doesn’t miss the opportunity to put the boot into Sinn Féin either – claiming the party’s definition of change amounts to having SF ministers in power alongside anyone who will go into power with them. 

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The real test of the programme for government will be in the delivery of it not the writing of it, Greens leader Eamon Ryan says. 

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Labour leader Alan Kelly speaking now and doesn’t miss the opportunity to have a go at … everyone. 

“Nothing in this pick and mix programme for government will actually transform the lives of ordinary people.”

Low paid workers shouldn’t suffer at the hands of decisions to be made in coming years, he says. 

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Some more from Christina Finn at the Convention Centre on Alan Kelly’s speech: 

The Labour leader dropped a few movie references during his address saying that Leo Varadkar must have been taking tips from Matt Damon when he was in Ireland.

He said the FG leader had woken up like Jason Bourne with no memory of what he’d said about Micheál Martin over the last four years.

His comments were a reference to something Varadkar said in 2016, which Kelly mentioned:

“I’m not sure if you know the film Total Recall, there’s an Arnold Schwarzenegger character who manages to have alternative memories planted in his brain and it seems to me that’s where we are with Micheál Martin. He’s created a whole fairytale about his period in health and, not dissimilar, his period in foreign affairs.”


Leo Varadkar was smiling and seemed to take it in jest.
Not sure if Micheál Martin will be grinning at the memory.

Social Democrats co-leader Catherine Murphy says there are things in the programme for government that are good but they have to be delivered. 

It doesn’t go far enough on health, childcare and quality of life issues, she says. 

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Richard Boyd-Barrett will be sharing his time with two other Solidarity-People Before Profit TDs.

He says they won’t be voting for Martin as Taoiseach (no surprise there).

FF and FG, in recent decades, have presided over the worst housing crisis the State has ever seen, he says.

The new government is a rehash and reheating of old policies. 

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Michael Lowry addressing TDs now. 

He says the Covid crisis has made us a better people – and pays tribute to frontline workers and those who stayed at home to protect others. 

He pays tribute to Varadkar’s performance and that of the entire government – along with the public health team. 

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From Christina: 

Perhaps it’s the setting, but the atmosphere here in the Convention Centre is very flat. Feels like a seminar on a Saturday morning. Richard Boyd Barrett’s speech – he was in typical form – was probably the first to get a bit of energy going.

A TD’s-eye view of the Convention Centre: 

Independent Noel Grealish has been speaking and says he’ll support the government today. 

Mattie McGrath and Michael Collins are sharing their speaking time with fellow independents the Healy-Raes. 

Michael Healy-Rae raises the case of a 15-year-old constituent suffering with curviture of the spine who has been waiting for years for an operation. 

He appeals to the incoming government to make sure no-one is left behind. 

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“The Healy-Rae party has remained close to the people who elected us and Fianna Fáil has distanced itself from the people of rural Ireland,” Danny Healy-Rae says. 

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Ceann Comhairle Seán Ó Fearghaíl notes that Danny Healy Rae appears to have announced the creation of a new party (the Healy-Rae party is not a real thing). 

Final few independents – including Michael FitzMaurice and Marian Harkin – having their say now. 

Harkin will be lending her vote to Martin today, she says. FitzMaurice won’t.

Vote for Taoiseach soon.

I hope. 

Okay – voting under way now. 

cc Daragh Daragh

From Christina Finn at the Convention Centre:

So, everyone has given their thoughts, and we now know that a handful of independents will back Martin’s nomination – Marian Harkin, Michael McNamara, Michael Lowry and Noel Grealish.

The bells are will now ring for six minutes (sounds like the same bell from Leinster House) then the doors are locked and there are four minutes then before a roll call vote is taken.

More from Christina, who’s in the nosebleed seats at the Convention Centre with the other reporters: 

Lots of chitchatting happening now, Jim O’Callaghan chin-wagging with Willie O’Dea. Speculation that he might get a nod for a ministerial role, though it looks like Dara Calleary will get the Justice job.

Leo Varadkar, I am told, will be taking on what is the next big challenge of the Covid-19 crisis – jobs.

I am told there are going to be a good few disappointments for the Fine Gael side, with only two promotions being made, and many more demotions.

Micheál Martin is down at the front of the stage chatting to Richard Boyd Barrett now

There’s also a socially distanced selfie being taken by FF’s Cormac Devlin with the man who will be Taoiseach.

I’d say there’ll be a few of those today.

Roll call vote starting now. 

The FG TDs’ names are being called first – starting with the Bs. Because there are no As. 

So. A roll-call.

€20 from me to the first TD to answer ‘anseo’. 

We’ve had FF and FG TDs so far – all tás. 

Onto the níls now. 

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The Green TDs all voted ‘tá’.

Tá’s too from Peter Fitzpatirck, Noel Grealish, Michael Lowry and Verona Murphy.
Denis Naughten abstains.

Mattie McGrath abstains. As does Carol Nolan.

Votes being totted up now. 

You could cut the tension with a badger, to steal an old line from a Tommy Tiernan routine for no particular reason. 

Totting continues. 

You wouldn’t envy anyone attempting to write a script for a one o’clock news bulletin would you? 

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Here we go – tellers coming forward. 

Micheál Martin has been elected Taoiseach. 

Martin addressing the house now. 

He says there were many things said during the debate which should normally be replied to – but the most important thing now is to move forward. 

He says responding the the Covid crisis and establishing the recovery will be his priority. 

Enormous progress has been made in the last three and a half months, he says. 

He pays tribute to frontline workers and also to Simon Harris and Leo Varadkar for their leadership. 

The struggle against the virus is not over, he says. 

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The Dáil has been suspended till 6pm when we’ll expect to see the new lineup of ministers. 

Martin is off to the Áras now to get his seal of office. 

Martin was voted Taoiseach by 93 votes to 63.

We’ll have a separate piece up shortly on his speech – but here’s how it ended:

My wife Mary has been a pillar of support and a partner for me since our days in college.

Our children have tolerated my many absences over the years. As they have grown, studied and experienced the world they have not just supported me, they have given Mary and I the benefit of their views of the Ireland which they have grown up with.

I was blessed to be born into the home which my late parents created for me and my brothers and sisters in the heart of the close-knit, working-class community which I have the enormous privilege of representing in Dáil Éireann.

Every day my parents showed us the importance of supporting each other, of tough but fair competition and of the spirit of community.

From my late father we learned not just of the great sporting achievements he saw, we learned of the characters and values of the heroes who were and remain immortal to us.

We learned the importance of persistence, of optimism and of always understanding that Cork will soon win another double.

Most of all we learned of the struggles of our country’s great founding generation and their republicanism – a republicanism which always sought to evolve and to respond to the needs of today and the future.

They were warm, generous, visionary and brave not just physically but far more importantly in their willingness to question themselves and embrace change.

It is this republicanism, a tradition which does not wear and never has worn a party label, to which we all owe so much.

It is the reason that Dáil Éireann is the only parliament established in the aftermath of the First World War which has been democratic for the entire century since.

This week 100 years ago, the First Dáil was also obliged to leave its normal chamber in order to be able to meet in full session.

The minutes of that meeting show that, in the face of dramatic events and repression, they continued their work of building Irish democracy.

They voted to establish independent courts.

They reviewed and questioned the work of every department.

They looked at ways of funding housing in Dublin.

They set themselves the challenge of not just talking about the problems of our country – but of developing solutions.

Our country has shown time and time again that we can overcome the toughest of challenges – and we will do so again.

It is in the spirit of a deep belief in the role of democratic government; with a commitment to delivering the recovery and renewal embodied in our programme, and a determination to work tirelessly to serve the people that I proudly accept your nomination.

Michelle Hennessy here taking over the liveblog as Daragh takes a well-deserved break after all that action.

If you missed Micheál Martin’s speech – here it is in full.

Martin has just arrived at the Áras, where he will be formally appointed Taoiseach by President Micheal D Higgins. 


It doesn’t seem to be raining there – it’s lashing where I am. 

President Michael D Higgins now signing the warrant of appointment.


Of course there’ll be no handshake this time as they maintain social distancing. 

There he is, the new Taoiseach – officially now.

Meanwhile, back at the Convention Centre, it’s grub time for TDs:

Hopefully Christina can have a bit of lunch now as well. Remember the Dáil will be back in session at 6pm, when we’ll find out who is in the new Cabinet.

Art O’Leary, Secretary General to the President giving us a closer look at the seals of office:

You may have noticed Micheál Martin – Taoiseach Micheál Martin – had two of them. One says ‘An Taoiseach’, while the smaller one says ‘Comhalta den Rialtas’ (member of government).

Each of the Cabinet ministers will get one of the small ones, but only for pictures as they are kept safe at the Áras.

O’Leary said the presidential seal in the first photo is the same one that was first used in 1937. 

Back at the Convention Centre, our Political Correspondent Christina Finn says she has heard independents who abstained from the vote are “keeping their options open”, but it is believed the Greens “put an end to any further chats with some rural independents”.

“Ministerial hopefuls will all be waiting by their phones now for the call from Micheál – he’ll call them in individually and then they will all return to Convention Centre where their names will be announced,” she says.

Micheál Martin has now left the Áras. His next move will be to let the new Cabinet members know they are the chosen ones…


Congratulations for the new Taoiseach from Scotland’s First Minister:

Micheál Martin’s first tweet as Taoiseach:

We have movement on the ministerial front…

Some more potential ministers getting the call to chat with the new Taosieach about their roles in the new government:

Some more predictions from political reporters and others: 

Did we mention the weather in Dublin is pretty brutal? 

Joe McHugh has read the writing on the wall – or at least got a phonecall from someone who’s read it. 

He may be relieved he won’t have to answer questions about the Leaving Cert anymore.

(By the way it’s Daragh Brophy here on the liveblog again – just in case anyone was about to tweet angrily at Michelle about the current content).

Charlie Flanagan is out. 

Michelle taking the reigns of the liveblog again and I’ve got an important update:

Cue responses about politicians all being jokes etc etc

In case the joke was lost on anyone we’re not actually getting a Minister for Comedy in the next Cabinet, but remember when Alan Shatter used to call himself Minister for Time?

It looks like Heather Humphreys will be moving offices:

The Dáil is due to reconvene at 6pm, but it looks like that may be delayed. These things always run late. 

Here are some snaps from the earlier session – Leo Varadkar looks like he had a great time:

Darragh O’Brian – soon to be Housing Minister – looked VERY happy with himself when he left Government Buildings earlier. 

Sam Boal / Sam Boal / /

He’ll have one of the most challenging briefs in the Cabinet and will face a lot of scrutiny over his approach to tackling the housing crisis.

The buses carrying Taoiseach Micheál Martin and his new Cabinet are now en route to the Convention Centre, so the evening Dáil session should get underway soon.

Ahead of the session this evening, we have some more insight from our Political Correspondent Christina Finn:

“So speaking to some Fianna Fáil TDs there is no surprise over Norma Foley, they said she is very impressive, and a close friend of Micheál’s. There is some surprise over Stephen Donnelly, even within his own party.

“It’s ‘a sink or swim’ as one TD said, while one Fine Gael TD said he’ll be used as a scapegoat. 

And one Fine Gael TD says that will probably annoy a lot if people in Fianna Fáil as you are meant to do your time before getting a gig like that.

One Fianna Fáil TD said there is surprise over Dara Calleary [not getting a Cabinet position], but that apparently he was given no indication he was getting a job – though everyone assumed he was getting one.

“One person most Fianna Fáil TDs are saying will not be happy is Thomas Byrne. Most saying he was on top of his education brief and should have been given a nod.”

Micheál Martin has just taken his seat in the Convention Centre, with probably Cabinet ministers also filtering in. 

Micheál Martin confirms to the Dáil that he has been appointed by the President as Taoiseach.

Now he’s announcing his Cabinet picks…

Here are your new ministers:

  • Tánaiste and Minsiter for Enterprise, Trade and Employment – Leo Varadkar
  • Minister for CLimate Action, Communication Networks and Transport - Eamon Ryan
  • Minister for Foreign Affairs and Defence – Simon Coveney
  • Minister for Finance – Paschal Donohoe
  • Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform – Michael McGrath
  • Minister for Justice – Helen McEntee
  • Minister for Education - Norma Foley
  • Minister for Higher Education, Innovation and Research – Simon Harris
  • Minister for Housing, Local Government and Heritage - Darragh O’Brien
  • Minister for Agriculture and the Marine – Barry Cowen
  • Minister for Media, Tourism, Arts, Culture, Sports and the Gaeltacht – Catherine Martin
  • Minister for Children, Disability, Equality and Integration – Roderic O’Gorman
  • Minister for Social Protection, Community and Rural Development and the Islands – Heather Humphreys
  • Minister for Health – Stephen Donnelly

Micheál Martin also confirms Dara Calleary will be Government Chief Whip.

In a nod to Pride, Martin says today would “normally be the most colourful and joyful day of the year in Dublin”. 

“Equality will have a strong voice in this government,” he says.


Tánaiste Leo Varadkar on his feet now – he congratulates Martin and points out that it is unfortunate that he cannot have the usual gathering of family, friends and supporters there today.

He said now is not a time for point-scoring, but to mark “a new beginning”. 

 We’re very different people but we have some crucial things in common and one is a determination to better the lives of the people of our country.

 He also congratulates Eamon Ryan on his comeback.

Eamon Ryan is up next – He’s now Minister for Climate Action, Communication Networks and Transpory

He says the government in addressing the current crisis should look to the successes of the past, such as the investment in the early part of the last decade in science and advanced technologies.

He said the government should also look back to the 80s, when investment in communities helped those living in poverty. He said the State should “facilitate communities to get out of bad times”.

Ryan says this government should be willing to take risks and fail so it can continue to learn.

Mary Lou McDonald, Sinn Féin leader and now leader of the largest opposition party, is on her feet now.  She starts by congratulating the Taoiseach and his new ministers:

The niceties didn’t last long though, as she hits out at their “unambitious programme for government”.

“A government of more of the same,” she says, describing Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael as “forced into a loveless embrace”.

The Dáil session is still going but we’re going to end our liveblog here.

In case you missed it, here’s a full list of the new Cabinet ministers

We’ll have more coverage of events this evening, thanks for following along with us today.

And enjoy the rest of your weekend.

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