Fine Gael leader Enda Kenny has received the seal of office of Taoiseach from the President after being re-elected this afternoon with the help of nine independents and the tacit support of Fianna Fail
Fine Gael leader Enda Kenny has received the seal of office of Taoiseach from the President after being re-elected this afternoon with the help of nine independents and the tacit support of Fianna Fail, who abstained as part of an historic agreement with their traditional foes.
After 70 days of convoluted negotiations, Kenny won by a margin of 59 votes to 49. In the end, he had the support his own party as well as five of the six members of the Independent Alliance, two of the five rural Independent TDs, as well as unaligned Independents Michael Lowry and Katherine Zappone.
Speaking in the Dail, Mr Kenny claimed that at the heart of a programme for government agreed with Fianna Fail was a realisation of the potential of all the people of Ireland. He said it was a “great honour”
to accept his nomination as Taoiseach for a second term.
The new ministers will take over their departments on Monday. It is expected Michael Noonan will return as Minister for Finance, Leo Varadkar as Minister for Health and Frances Fitzgerald will return to the Department of Justice.
As part of the deal, it is understood the Independent Alliance has been offered one senior ministry, a super junior ministry, a junior ministry and a rotating junior minister, with Shane Ross as the senior minister.
Fianna Fail leader Micheal Martin, Sinn Fein’s Gerry Adams and Labour’s Joan Burton all noted the Independents luke-warm support.
During his speech Micheal Martin took credit for the postponement of water charges but added: “Water policy is not the most important policy facing the country and has taken too much time.”
While criticising the “Enda Dependents” for supporting Mr Kenny, Sinn Fein’s Gerry Adams noted that many of them “were among the most vocal opponents of Fine Gael and Labour’s policy agenda”.
He described joint Fine Gael-Fianna Fail programme as a “masterclass in waffle and bluster. No real ambition. No big ideas. No costings. Little real detail.
“Never was so much negotiated for so long, for so little. Their joint paper contains a few miserly lines – not even a section – on health.”
He also noted there was no commitment on the construction of social homes “whatsoever”.
“All we have is a reiteration of the haphazard approach to a social, State-endorsed housing and homelessness emergency that Fine Gael and Fianna Fail caused in the first instance.
“On the issue of water, which was the main point of contention between Fianna Fail and Fine Gael, we are told that Irish Water remains and water charges are merely suspended, completely contrary to the Fianna Fail manifesto.”
He also noted that the Taoiseach had vowed not to form a government beholden to Independents.
“Another election promise out the window,” he said. “However long it lasts, Sinn Fein will fulfil our obligations as the leaders of the opposition. And in the interest of citizens, we will hold this Government – comprising Fine Gael, Fianna Fail and the Independents propping them up – to proper and robust account.”