Saturday 17 November 2018

Enda Kenny loses third vote to be next Taoiseach with just one additional vote

Watch: TDs gather to vote for new Taoiseach

Cormac McQuinn and Barry Lennon

Fine Gael leader Enda Kenny has picked up an additional vote for Taoiseach, Independent TD Katherine Zappone

The Dublin South-West deputy was one of only two Independents who have voted for Mr Kenny, the other being Tipperary TD Michael Lowry.

Mr Lowry who has not been involved in government formation talks voted for Mr Kenny last week as well.

He has said he is supporting his former party colleague "in the national interest" because Fine Gael is the largest party.

Ms Zappone is a new TD, elected this year having previously been appointed to the Seanad by Mr Kenny in 2011.

Mr Kenny has now lost the vote to become Taoiseach for a third time.

The result of the vote for Mr Kenny's nomination as Taoiseach was 52 in favour and 77 against.

Following Mr Kenny's failure Fianna Fáil leader Micheal Martin also lost his bid to become Taoiseach losing by 43 for to 91 against.

Mr Martin failed to attract any more Independents than Deputy Kenny.

The result comes after Mr Martin gave Independent TDs a final ultimatum to support him in a minority government last night.

Earlier this afternoon, TDs were told that if they "sit on their hands or vote against" Micheál Martin in this afternoon's vote for Taosieach, it will effectively put Enda Kenny back in office.

Fianna Fáil deputy Lisa Chambers made the remark while nominating her party leader Mr Martin as TDs gathered in the Dáil for a third time to vote on the matter, seven weeks after the election.

Earlier Fine Gael's Noel Rock nominated Mr Kenny and hit out at politicians who haven't engaged in government formation talks saying they are "playing a game of party-first".

At the begining of this afternoon's proceedings Sinn Féin leader Gerry Adams sought to postpone vote on Taoiseach as it would be "inconclusive" and to allow time to discuss health and the ongoing Luas industrial unrest.

TDs rejected the motion.

The Ceann Comhairle proposed that after today's business is finished that the Dáil be adjourned until next Wednesday.

Mr Adams opposed this. He said: "We're very very well paid to do a job. There are ministers in place sacked by election implementing policies they have no mandate for."

"We're going to be in here for a few hours and then we're going to go off again until next week?" he asked.

 Independent TD Finian McGrath said that the Dáil "not reconvening until next Wednesday is unacceptable."

 "It's too far away we should be getting down to business," he added.

However, TDs voted in favour of adjourning the Dáil until next Wednesday with Fianna Fáil deputies voting along with Fine Gael.

The motion was was passed 100 to 55.

Dublin North-West TD Noel Rock, Fine Gael's youngest deputy, nominated his party leader Mr Kenny once again.

"Since I last took to my feet to nominate An Taoiseach Enda Kenny, a number of events have taken place," he remarked noting Mr Kenny's offer on a "full partnership government" including Fine Gael, Fianna Fail and Independents which was rejected by Mr Martin's party.

Mr Rock (28) said that this arrangement would have been "lasting and stable" and that he regretted that it has been rejected so far.

He quoted the late US President Theodore Roosevelt saying: "in any moment of decision, the best thing you can do is the right thing, the next best thing is the wrong thing and the worst thing you can do is nothing.

"We’ve taken on the responsibility of doing something Ceann Comhairle, Enda Kenny has taken on the responsibility of forming a new Government in a reasonable, responsible, reform-minded way," he said.

He said it was his party's intention to form a government that will last.

Mr Rock accused some  of "playing a game of party-first, pass-the-parcel politics" and he said: "they should be challenged".

He said that some parties haven't even entered government formation talks and that it was wasting the vote of those who supported them on election day.

Read More: So what are the five possible outcomes from today's crucial Dail vote for a new Taoiseach today?

He said that progress is being made and that "people of all parties and none are willing to talk, willing to compromise, willing to come to the table and willing to take on the difficult job of creating a Government" and that their efforts should be commended.

He said that his constituents appreciate the efforts of "all Independents who have worked in an honest fashion to try and put a new Government together."

"While 14 of them have announced an abstention today, I am hopeful that they will continue to engage with the work of creating a Government," he added - referring to the so-called Ag House Agreement.

He said he was "proud" nominate Mr Kenny in the spirit of "working in an honest fashion to try and put a new government together.

Meanwhile, Fianna Fail's Lisa Chambers defended the divide between Fine Gael and Fianna Fail, saying to dismiss it as civil war politics is “superficial and dismissive.”

Ms Chambers said the split was described as “only being defined by division made over 100 years ago.”

She criticised the Acting-Government for debates surrounded by spin rather than policy and called strong majority governments “unfair and arrogant.”

“We need to need to end the day of, “ah sure that's what politicians do” type politics,” she said.

“To try to dismiss division as civil war politics is superficial and dismissive. Only being defined by division 100 years ago.” 

Ms Chambers added it was the last chance for Independents to vote for Micheál Martin or they would have to vote for Mr Kenny.

"If you sit on your hands or vote against Deputy Martin you are effectively putting Deputy Kenny back in as Taoiseach to lead a Fine Gael minority government," she said.

"The people may not have been entirely clear who they wanted to lead this government.

"But they were very clear on who they did not want. By voting for Micheál Martin as Taoiseach you are honouring that commitment to implement change and opting to take our country on a fairer and more inclusive path."

But the Green Party's Catherine Martin criticised the deadlock between parties.

She said: "No one party won the election but the people lost the election" in her maiden speech in the Dail.

"While some have worked hard, others sat on their hands. We should put people before party hopes," she added. 

The Anti-Austerity Alliance's Paul Murphy encouraged people to "mobilise" against a "right-wing Government."

Read More: Willie O'Dea: Fine Gael fear a stampede of Independents supporting Micheál Martin in Taoiseach vote

Mr Murphy predicted that this was the most likely outcome of a vote for Taoiseach and also added water charges had not been addressed in the chamber.

Elsewhere, Sinn Fein leader Gerry Adams claimed that Fianna Fail and Fine Gael "did not his party existed."

Mr Adams hit out at the parties for not speaking to his party adding "he was speaking to Independents that want to speak to us."

“We are not worthy to be talked to", he added.

Both acting Taoiseach Enda Kenny of Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin are seeking the support of Independent TDs for proposed minority governments.

The vote comes after Mr Martin’s party warned Independents that they can vote for him today as Taoiseach or settle for Mr Kenny.

However, the move appears not to have worked as all 15 Independents who were involved in government formation talks have indicated they will abstain from today’s vote.

A group of 14 Independent TDs agreed at lunchtime to abstain from today’s vote for Taoiseach in what has been dubbed the ‘Ag House Agreement’.

The 14 deputies include the Independent Alliance, the so-called ‘Rural Five’, the two Healy Rae brothers and Maureen O’Sullivan.

Independent TD Katherine Zappone did not sign the agreement but has previously indicated that she will abstain.

The decision to unite came following a meeting of the Independents in Agriculture House close to the Dáil.

"We are stepping back from the talks on the formation of a new government with both parties until they agree a reciprocal agreement that they will give mutual support to each other, in the event of either party leader becoming Taoiseach in a minority government,” the text of the deal said.

"We require that they agree to a minimum of three Budgets in order to give stability to the Irish people. We are offering to facilitate both parties in this task in any way that will hasten the formation of a government," it added.

Talks between Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil broke down last night before policy matters like the future of Irish Water could be discussed.

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