From Covid to coalition: Five months that defined state of the nation

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Taoiseach Micheál Martin pictured arriving the convention center for the sitting of the 33rd Dáil. Picture Credit:Frank McGrath. 27/6/20

Taoiseach Micheál Martin pictured arriving the convention center for the sitting of the 33rd Dáil. Picture Credit:Frank McGrath. 27/6/20

Taoiseach Micheál Martin pictured arriving the convention center for the sitting of the 33rd Dáil. Picture Credit:Frank McGrath. 27/6/20

It's been a long road to a coalition - here we take a look back at the five months that defined the state of the nation.

February:

The country goes to the polls and the people’s decision presents Ireland’s political parties with a government formation headache. Fianna Fail gets 38 seats, Sinn Fein wins 37 and Fine Gael returns 35. A Dail majority is 80.

No two parties alone can form a government and both Fianna Fail and Fine Gael rule out a deal with Sinn Fein. The Greens win 12 seats and seem on course to be kingmakers in any potential coalition. Taoiseach Leo Varadkar says Fine Gael would be preparing to go into opposition.

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SF leader Mary Lou McDonald with her supporters at the RDS

SF leader Mary Lou McDonald with her supporters at the RDS

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SF leader Mary Lou McDonald with her supporters at the RDS

Fianna Fail and Sinn Fein begin separate efforts to form coalitions with other parties and Independents. Dail votes for Taoiseach take place on February 20 but no leader has enough support.

Ireland has its first confirmed coronavirus cases at the end of the month.

March:

Government formation efforts take a back seat amid the shock of the coronavirus crisis. St Patrick’s Day parades are cancelled and Taoiseach Leo Varadkar later announces the closure of schools.

It’s been clear for weeks that Sinn Fein will not get the numbers to form a government. Green Party proposals for a government of national unity are shot down. Fianna Fail and Fine Gael agree to begin talks on the possibility of forming a government. Ireland goes into lockdown at the end of March. The death toll from Covid-19 rises steadily.

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Taoiseach, Leo Varadkar, in a post cabinet coronavirus briefing. Photo: MerrionStreet.ie/PA Wire

Taoiseach, Leo Varadkar, in a post cabinet coronavirus briefing. Photo: MerrionStreet.ie/PA Wire

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Taoiseach, Leo Varadkar, in a post cabinet coronavirus briefing. Photo: MerrionStreet.ie/PA Wire

April:

As the coronavirus emergency hits its peak, Fianna Fail and Fine Gael agree a framework document. It sets out the belief that a government with a clear majority is needed to deliver a strong recovery from the Covid-19 crisis.

The document is sent to other parties including the Greens, Labour and the Social Democrats for consideration.

Labour and the Social Democrats ultimately decide not to enter talks. The Green Party sends Fianna Fail and Fine Gael 17 questions on their key priorities like climate action.

May:

The Green Party decides to enter talks with the Civil War parties, though deputy leader Catherine Martin votes against the decision.

Despite this she is chosen to lead the Green Party’s negotiating team. The caretaker government begins to slowly ease lockdown restrictions as the number of coronavirus cases falls.

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Green TD Catherine Martin. Photo: Gareth Chaney/Collins

Green TD Catherine Martin. Photo: Gareth Chaney/Collins

Collins Dublin, Gareth Chaney

Green TD Catherine Martin. Photo: Gareth Chaney/Collins

Leo Varadkar says the end of June was a hard deadline for a government to be formed due to the need to pass urgent legislation.

June:

Ms Martin confirms she will challenge Eamon Ryan for the Green Party’s leadership.

Talks continue and a programme for government is agreed on Monday, June 15. It includes key Green demands like a 7pc-a-year cut in carbon emissions.

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Green Party leader Eamon Ryan and deputy party leader Catherine Martin. Photo: Tom Burke

Green Party leader Eamon Ryan and deputy party leader Catherine Martin. Photo: Tom Burke

Green Party leader Eamon Ryan and deputy party leader Catherine Martin. Photo: Tom Burke

The three parties vote on the deal. There is concern that it won’t be endorsed by the Green Party members but in the end it’s comfortably approved.

Leo Varadkar announces that most businesses are allowed to reopen from coronavirus lockdown on Monday. Micheal Martin has been elected Taoiseach.

Online Editors