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What happens next?: A new Taoiseach, postal votes and a Dáil sitting in the Convention Centre

Micheál Martin is set to take over as Taoiseach at the end of the month, while Leo Varadkar will become Tánaiste.

Image: Sam Boal

AFTER WEEKS OF negotiations, Fianna Fáil, Fine Gael and the Green Party have finally reached an agreement on a draft programme for government today

As part of the deal, it has been agreed that the next government will have a rotating position for Taoiseach, with Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin taking the reins first. 

However, before we reach that stage, the programme for government has to be accepted by the parliamentary parties as well as the grassroots members around the country.

Fianna Fáil’s Micheál Martin is facing a challenge in selling the deal to party members with many wholeheartedly against the deal with Fine Gael.

Rural members of the party are also concerned about going into a coalition with the Green Party.

It is one member, one vote for Fianna Fáil, with a simple majority required to get the endorsement of the party.

While traditionally, an Ard Fheis would have been held so a vote could be taken, due to Covid-19, a postal vote of the party’s 18,000 members will be undertaken.

Speaking on RTÉ’s Six One News, Martin said the programme for government is a “pragmatic an urgent reponse” to the Covid-19 crisis and the economic challenge the country is facing.

While he said Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil entering into government together is a “historic development in itself” he stated it does not signal a “loss in identity” for his own party. 

Fine Gael operates an electoral college system, with the parliamentary party making up 50% of the vote, followed by constituency delegates (25%), councillors (15%) and the party’s executive council (10%).

All party members will vote by postal ballot.

Varadkar said this evening that he hopes his parliamentary party will back the deal, stating that it is the right thing to do by the country.

All eyes will be on the Green Party, which faces the toughest battle in terms of getting the members to back the deal.

Party rules demands a 66% endorsement from its 2000-strong membership.

Green Party leader Eamon Ryan said today that ultimately the decision to back the deal is up to each member, but he is hopeful that the party will support the agreed programme for government.

The results of the Fine Gael, Fianna Fáil and Green Party votes will be announced on Friday 26 June.

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While there is no date set for the election of the next Taoiseach, it is widely expected the election will take place either on Saturday June 27 or Monday June 29. 

The vote is expected to take place in the Dublin Convention Centre as all 160 TDs must be present in order for the vote to take place.

Due to social distancing, it cannot be held in Leinster House.

There is a tight timeline for this vote as it needs to be done by 30 June so that the new government can renew the Offences Against the State Act which ensures the Special Criminal Court can continue its work.

This can only be done once the new Taoiseach appoints the 11 Taoiseach’s nominees to  the Seanad.

Under the government formation deal, there will be four Fianna Fáil senators, four to Fine Gael, and two for the Greens. One independent will be agreed by the three party leaders. At least half of the party nominees will be women.

In terms of Cabinet jobs, Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil will get six Cabinet seats each, with three for the Greens.

Once elected Taoiseach at the end of the month, Micheál Martin’s term will run until December 15 2022.

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