Seismic shift in power clear for all to see in first Dail sitting
THE first sitting of the 31st Dail tomorrow will be a huge day of ceremony when the seismic shift in political power is clear for all to see on the parliamentary benches.
The 20 TDs of the once-mighty Fianna Fail party will have to watch as they are swamped by the new 113 seat Fine Gael-Labour coalition, which will dominate the chamber.
Sinn Fein will share the opposition benches with Fianna Fail and the 19 other TDs -- Independents and the United Left Alliance -- will also be a sizeable presence in the Dail.
The day will formally get under way at noon when the Clerk of the Dail, Kieran Coughlan, opens proceedings and calls the house to order.
The Fianna Fail TDs will sit on the government benches to start off, with Finance Minister Brian Lenihan as the most senior member of the outgoing government sitting in the seat usually occupied by the Taoiseach.
Mr Coughlan will read the proclamation convening Dail Eireann and will then announce the names and constituency of each member elected to the 31st Dail.
Mr Coughlan will then call for nominations for a new Ceann Comhairle. Dun Laoghaire FG TD Sean Barrett is currently linked to the post.
Once elected, the Ceann Comhairle addresses the house from beside the chair before officially assuming the chair and office. He or she will then take an oath of impartiality.
Nominations for Taoiseach will then be put to the Dail in the order they are received, with the opposition parties usually nominating their leader, and there is then a vote for Taoiseach.
The person with the most votes, in this case Enda Kenny, will then be nominated by the Dail as Taoiseach. Mr Kenny will then travel to Aras an Uachtarain where President Mary McAleese will formally appoint him as Taoiseach.
There is a two-hour break in Dail proceedings for Mr Kenny to travel to the Aras and to allow him and Labour leader Eamon Gilmore to appoint senior ministers.
On his return, Mr Kenny leads the Cabinet to the chamber, where they take their positions on the government benches.
The Dail then votes to approve the Cabinet and the Cabinet then travels to Aras an Uachtarain to receive their seals of office from President McAleese.
Meanwhile, hundreds of proud Mayo men and women will descend on the capital tomorrow to witness Enda Kenny's inauguration as Taoiseach.
The Mayor of Castlebar, Councillor Ger Deere, said: "There is tremendous pride locally in his achievement and this will be reflected in the numbers travelling to Dublin tomorrow to wish him well."