Irish Republican News · June 14, 2007
[Irish Republican News]

[Irish Republican News]
Ahern elected Taoiseach as Greens back FF/PD agenda

The 30th Dail has elected Bertie Ahern to a third term as Taoiseach in a three-party coalition between Fianna Fail, the Green Party and the Progressive Democrats.

Mr Ahern secured a majority of thirteen -- 89 votes in favour versus 76 against -- with the support of his coalition partners and four independents. His nomination was opposed by Fine Gael, Labour, Sinn Féin and Dublin independent Tony Gregory.

The Dail then adjourned to allow the Taoiseach to travel to Aras an Uachtarain, where has has cermonially signed the warrant of appointment. He is currently returning to the Dail for the appointment of ministers who in turn will travel back to the Aras to receive their seals of office.

Earlier in the day, former cabinet Minister John O’Donoghue was elected as Ceann Comhairle, or chair of the house. A ballot was triggered when the Labour leader Pat Rabbitte, seconded by Fine Gael leader Enda Kenny, nominated Ruarai Quinn to the position.

After the ballot, the often contentious former Minister for Justice said it was an honour for him to be elected to the position and said he would do his best to “deal fairly with each and every deputy in the house”.

Mr Ahern is the first Taoiseach to serve three terms since Eamon De Valera and the first to have the support of the Green Party.

Yesterday, the Greens voted in a special conference of party delegates to support a Programme for Government which controversially contained few genuine concessions to the party’s policies.

The Greens will get two cabinet posts, and the PDs will have one, with the remaining 12 positions being filled by Fianna Fail.

The Greens will also get two junior ministerial posts, which means that four of the party’s six TDs will get office under the deal.

Trevor Sargent, who announced last night that he would honour his earlier pledge to step down as party leader rather than lead the Greens into government with Fianna Fail, said he would not take up a cabinet position but would accept a junior ministry if offered one.

Former Fine Gael minister and Independent TD for North Tipperary Michael Lowry confirmed yesterday he has agreed to support Fianna Fail. Independent TD for Kerry South Jackie Healy-Rae signed a deal with Mr Ahern on Monday that is worth tens of millions of euro for his constituency, while Finian McGrath, an Independent TD in Dublin Central, also agreed a package in exchange for supporting Fianna Fail, as has former Fianna Fail TD Beverley Flynn.

Speaking before the nominations of Ahern and Fine Gael candidate Enda Kenny, Sinn Féin Dail leader Caoimhghin O Caolain said his party fought the General Election as an independent political party on “a radical platform” for “real social and economic equality” and Irish reunification.

Neither bloc offered the real change that was “desperately needed”, he added.

“The Programme for Government agreed between Fianna Fail and the Green Party is essentially a Fianna Fail/PD Programme. It will continue most of the failed policies of the past decade.

“Most glaringly it contradicts two core values of the Green Party - equity in our health services and Irish neutrality and independent foreign policy.

“The Programme retains the disgraceful hospital co-location scheme which rewards private for-profit hospital developers and reinforces the two-tier system.

“It allows Shannon Airport to continue as a staging post for the US/British war in Iraq, in complete violation of our neutrality.

“The four Sinn Féin TDs will provide constructive opposition in the Dail and in the country. We will be holding the new Government to account and putting forward real alternatives. We will continue to challenge the domination of politics by the two conservative parties, Fianna Fail and Fine Gael.

“The Labour Party have once again helped to revive Fine Gael while the Greens have now joined Fianna Fail in putting the PDs back in office. There was never a greater need for a radical and relevant alternative.”

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© 2007 Irish Republican News