Enda Kenny re-elected as Taoiseach after ‘tawdry deals’
Enda Kenny re-elected as Taoiseach after ‘tawdry deals’


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.

Tension had been building in the Dail chamber throughout the early afternoon as last-minute crisis background talks continued with the Independent Alliance. The situation required some filibustering to delay the vote before the deal was done.

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.

Details of the local pork-barrel projects offered to the independents for their support have not yet been revealed.

Roscommon TD Michael Fitzmaurice, aligned to Euro MP Luke ‘Ming’ Flanagan, failed to support the new coalition over the issue of turf cutting, but talks are said to be continuing on that issue.

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.”

He hit out at the Labour Party for continuing to argue that charges should remain, saying: “Alan Kelly suffering from the withdrawal of the drug of his choice.”

He also took a swipe at Sinn Fein saying: “The very people who have condemned us for allowing Fine Gael back into government spent two months trying to force us into government with them.”

Labour’s Joan Burton, who is expected to step down as Labour leader shortly, described the Fine Gael-Fianna Fail deal as “tawdry” and allowed Fianna Fail to put its boot on Fine Gael’s neck and pull down the government whenever it chooses.

Ruth Coppinger of the left-wing AAA-PBP said that she has never seen an incoming Taoiseach looking “so unhappy”. She added that 75% of people did not want Kenny returned as Taoiseach.

“The traditional rules [on opposition] apply, because the two traditional parties had to come to an agreement. This isn’t a grand coalition, but it’s certainly a first cousin of a grand coalition,” she added.

Ms Coppinger said there will be “collective groan” from people around the country who did not want Mr Kenny to return as Taoiseach. She said the suspension of water charges was not due to pressure from Fianna Fail but rather down to the anti-water charge movement.

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.”

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