The parliament looks set to be left in limbo without the formation of a new government or agreement on who should be Taoiseach.
Ceann Comhairle Seán Ó Fearghaíl has emailed TDs warning that, without a full newly formed Seanad, that laws will not be able to be passed.
The email, circulated to Fianna Fáil TDs last night, warns that from midnight this coming Sunday, that the Houses of the Oireachtas will not be able to pass legislation.
The dilemma arises with the election of a new Seanad next week. However, 11 of the 60 members of the Seanad are decided by a Taoiseach. And without agreement on a new government or a Taoiseach, those 11 cannot be appointed, leaving the Upper House incomplete and in abeyance.
In an email to Sligo-Leitrim Fianna Fáil TD Marc MacSharry, Mr Ó Fearghaíl responded to concerns about the ability of any new laws to be passed without the approval of the Seanad.
The email says:
“Given that Dáil Éireann has yet to nominate a Taoiseach for appointment by Uachtarán na hÉireann, it is not possible for the current Taoiseach Leo Varadkar TD to make the eleven nominations which in turn means it is not possible for the new Seanad to meet,” Mr Ó Fearghaíl said.
“This obviously gives rise to a very serious constitutional problem: from midnight next Sunday 29 March 2020, the Houses of the Oireachtas will not be able to pass legislation. “Given the profound implications of this, I am sure that the Taoiseach, Party and Group Leaders will want to address this serious legislative incapacity at the earliest possible opportunity.”
The warning comes after the Government was already advised by the Attorney General that it will not be able to pass legislation through the Oireachtas after next week as the new Seanad will not be properly constituted.
The concern will add further pressure on Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael to quickly agree a deal to form a government, with further emergency laws expected in the coming weeks to help prevent the spread of Covid-19.