Enda Kenny offers to meet Micheál Martin after failed Taoiseach vote

Enda Kenny offers to meet Micheál Martin after failed Taoiseach vote

Here is what happened in today's Dáil vote

By Daniel McConnell Political Editor

Acting Taoiseach Enda Kenny has lost a third vote this afternoon to be re-elected in the Dáil.

TDs met for just the fourth time since the general election seven weeks ago and the country remains without an elected Government in place.

Mr Kenny was defeated by a margin of 77 votes to 52, with the acting Taoiseach's nomination being supported by all 50 Fine Gael TDs, Michael Lowry and for the first time Dublin South-West TD Katherine Zappone.

Her decision to support Mr Kenny was praised by Agriculture Minister Simon Coveney, who called on other independents to take a risk.

Within minutes of losing the vote, Mr Kenny took to his feet in the Dáil in which he committed to continuing in office until a Government is formed.

He also issued a fresh invitation to Fianna Fáil leader Micheal Martin to meet to discuss how talks between the two sides could continue, with a view of forming a minority government.

For his part, Mr Martin was also rejected by the Dáil in his bid to be elected Taoiseach. He lost his vote by a margin of 91 votes to 43.

Speaking in the Dáil, Mr Martin strongly criticised Fine Gael in its approach to the talks in recent days as did other members of his party in the chamber.

Before the vote, Independent Alliance TD Shane Ross called for Fine Gael to deal with Fianna Fáil on a basis where there is "parity of esteem". Mr Kenny said that parity exists but this was rejected by Mr Martin and several Fianna Fáil TDs.

Earlier, fourteen Independents announced their intention to abstain from the vote for Taoiseach.

They also said they were stepping back from the talks with both Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil 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”.

Update 4.32pm: The acting Taoiseach Enda Kenny has offered to meet Mr Martin to discuss a minority government.

Update 4.24pm: Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin has been rejected by the Dáil for Taoiseach.

Mr Martin secured 43 votes with 91 TDs voting against him.

The Dáil will now decide if it wants Micheál Martin as Taoiseach.

Update 4.10pm: Fourteen Independents, the Labour Party, Social Democrats and the Green Party have abstained in the vote for Enda Kenny as Taoiseach.

It means he has been rejected for the post.

Mr Kenny got 52 votes, - 50 Fine Gael TDS, Michael Lowry and Katherine Zappone - with 77 voting against him and 28 abstaining.

Update 3.55pm: The Dáil is now carrying out its third vote to decide if it wants Enda Kenny as Taoiseach.

Acting Tánaiste and Labour leader Joan Burton spelled out a wishlist of what would be required if Labour is to back a minority Government.

Ms Burton said: "We believe that any programme for government should include an ambitious housing package, an absolute commitment to eradication child poverty in Ireland and a commitment to progressively increase the minimum wage to deliver a living wage.

"Childcare costs, reduced carbon emissions, repealing the eighth amendment and having real tax justice and reform."

Independents have again called on Fine Gael to agree if Micheál Martin gets the numbers they would support Fianna Fáil from opposition.

Fourteen of the 15 who engaged in talks with both parties say they are withdrawing from those talks until that is agreed.

Dublin Rathdown TD Shane Ross also criticised Fianna Fáil's behaviour.

He said: "And this is one of the reasons why we are abstaining, we do not like receiving ultimatums from any party that we should vote one way today or that they get off the pitch. We do not respond to that."

Update 3.20pm: Enda Kenny and Micheál Martin have both been nominated for Taoiseach in the Dáil.

There were no nominations from Sinn Féin or from the Anti-Austerity Alliance/People Before Profit bloc.

Update 3pm: A spokesman for Enda Kenny has said it remains his position that Fine Gael should not support any government led by Fianna Fáil.

He proposed that the Dáil be adjourned until next Wednesday if there is no Taoiseach elected this afternoon.

The Dáil has voted by 100 votes to 55 in favour of holding its next sitting next Wednesday.

Update 1.53pm: Fourteen Independent have said that they will abstain in this afternoon's vote for Taoiseach.

They have said that will not continue talks unless Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil negotiate a deal first.

A statement from the 14 TDs said: "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.

"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."

The statement is signed by Sean Canny, Michael Collins, Michael Fitzmaurice, Noel Grealish, John Halligan, Michael Harty, Danny Healy-Rae, Michael Healy-Rae, Finian McGrath, Mattie McGrath, Kevin 'Boxer' Moran, Denis Naughten, Maureen O'Sullivan and Shane Ross.

Update 1.30pm: It is being reported that Fianna Fáil have secured the support of three Independent TDs.

It is said the party has the backing of Michael Healy-Rae and his brother Danny as well as Mattie McGrath.

If so, then the gap between them and Fine Gael stands at 51-46.

Update 12.50pm: Sinn Féin says, while the country needs a Government, the party will still vote against both Enda Kenny and Micheál Martin.

Party President Gerry Adams has also said he is available for talks on Government formation but other parties have ruled them out.

He says the party would only vote for a Taoiseach of a progressive Government for the people:.

Mr Adams said: "It isn't just a matter of forming a government, just to say 'any old government will do, whatever you're having yourself', it's what a government would do.

"So we are firmly of the view that the mess that was created, was created in the first instance by Fianna Fáil and perpetuated by Fine Gael."

Sinn Féin President went on to say that an inconclusive vote for Taoiseach should be postponed.

He said: “Sinn Féin are of the view that if the vote for Taoiseach today is likely to be inconclusive it should be postponed. If it does go ahead, we will vote against both Micheál Martin and Enda Kenny.

“Public patience is wearing very thin with both Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil. They need to get real and come up with an agreement for a government soon.

“I don’t believe these have been serious negotiations. No one ever really believed that Fianna Fáil could win support for a Fianna Fáil led minority government. It’s all been part of the charade and the two large conservative parties trying to outmanoeuvre one another.

“Seven weeks after the election the two largest parties, which claim to want to be in government have not even discussed policy matters. Last night it was confirmed that Fianna Fáil failed to even prepare a policy paper.

“Thousands more families are paying unsustainable mortgages and demanding action on water charges and this morning we learned that homelessness figures for February have doubled, and there are 5,881 citizens in emergency accommodation, including 1,881 children. Citizens would be better served if we were working on these matters than engaging in another pointless vote.”

Enda Kenny offers to meet Micheál Martin after failed Taoiseach vote

Update 10.11am: Acting Minister Brendan Howlin has said Fianna Fáil reportedly issuing an ultimatum to Independents is an example of old party tactics.

“I believe Fianna Fáil have significantly overplayed their hand,” he said.

“Old arrogance [is] creeping back into Fianna Fáil, they seem to believe they’ve won the election, and yesterday, cutting short negotiations with Fine Gael, and issuing ultimata to other Deputies on how they should vote and when they should vote is old Fianna Fáil, they’ve got a mandate that they don’t have.”

As this afternoon’s vote to elect a Taoiseach nears, Independent TD Mattie McGrath has said that he is unlikely to vote for a Fine Gael government.

“Quite simply, I campaigned against the Government, and the Government didn’t get re-elected, so I’d find it very hard to vote for the Government,” he said.

“So it would be … impossible for me to vote for a Fine Gael Government who haven’t changed. Nothing has been dealt with in the last couple of weeks that satisfies me in their policies and really the problem is that Enda [Kenny] wants to be at the wheel.”

Update 9.15am: Simon Coveney says that a Fianna Fáil led minority Government is not a viable option.

“Fianna Fáil has rejected the offer of a partnership Government with Fine Gael and Fine Gael has rejected the proposal that there would be a Fianna Fáil led minority government, and that’s because we just don’t think it’s viable,” he said.

“They’re starting with 43 seats, we’re starting effectively with 51, that’s a big gap in the current circumstances.”

Enda Kenny offers to meet Micheál Martin after failed Taoiseach vote

Update 8.22am: Independent TDs Michael Healy Rae and Mattie McGrath have said that Micheál Martin did not issue them with an ultimatum.

It had been claimed the Fianna Fáil leader told the independents to vote for him today or he would not put his name forward again.

But Deputies Healy Rae and McGrath say that statement did not come from Micheál Martin.

Enda Kenny offers to meet Micheál Martin after failed Taoiseach vote

“I believe that he didn’t say that, and that has been attributed to him, but it’s wrong and it’s unfair, because he didn’t say it,” said Deputy Healy-Rae.

“The ultimatum – that never came from Micheál Martin.”

Deputy Mattie McGrath agreed.

“That statement, I have verification from Micheál Martin, that that statement wasn’t issued by him, about the ultimatum. A ‘source’ it was attributed to, and the source could be anybody.”

Earlier: Independents have been told today is their last chance to get Enda Kenny out of power, as another attempt will be made to elect a Taoiseach in the Dáil.

Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin issued the ultimatum for Independents to vote for him today, saying his name will not be going forward for the position of Taoiseach again.

Enda Kenny offers to meet Micheál Martin after failed Taoiseach vote

It follows a breakdown in talks between Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil last night.

A meeting between the two parties planned for 8pm last night was cancelled at short notice.

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