Live: Dáil approves Enda Kenny as Taoiseach

The Dáil has been suspended as Enda Kenny travels under Garda escort to Áras an Uachtaráin to receive his seal of office from the President.

Update 4.48pm: Michael Healy-Rae has defended his decision to abstain in today’s vote for Enda Kenny as Taoiseach.

“I did so after spending 70 days trying to ensure that many of the issues and problems that are facing the people of Kerry and all of rural Ireland were going to be addressed in the programme for Government,” he said.

“I believe that the final document is not perfect but I did succeed in making sure that many of the issues which are of concern to the people of Kerry and all of rural Ireland are to be dealt with if the new Government implements the programme in full as they have promised.

“To have voted against today would have meant voting against all the work that was put into the programme.

“I will continue to pursue Government to address the problems that we have in Rural Ireland, as the last Government was totally anti-rural.

“I am glad that there will be a new Ministry for Regional Development and Rural Affairs to finally address the imbalance between our centres of population and rural Ireland.”

Update 2.23pm: The Dáil has approved Enda Kenny as Taoiseach by a margin of 59 votes to 49.

Update 2.21pm: Kevin Boxer Moran, John Halligan and Katherine Zappone have voted in favour of Enda Kenny becoming Taoiseach.

Update 2.08pm: Fine Gael leader Enda Kenny will likely be re-elected Taoiseach in the coming moments after last minute talks between his party and Independents concluded, writes Fiachra Ó Cionnaith, Political Reporter.

It is understood five of the Independent Alliance will support Mr Kenny.

However, the group's sixth member Michael Fitzmaurice will abstain because he was unable to secure a turf cutting deal due to EU regulations tying the Government's hands.

The move means Fine Gael will have the support of at least 60 TDs in the vote when it occurs in the coming minutes.

This is based on 50 Fine Gael TDs, unaligned Independents Michael Lowry and Katherine Zappone, five of the Independent Alliance and three of the five rural Independent TDs.

The Fine Gael-Fianna Fáil deal was based on the fact Fine Gael needed at least 58 TDs to back Enda Kenny.

Update 2.04pm: A vote on Enda Kenny becoming Taoiseach has now begun in the Dáil.

Update 2pm: A deal may have been reached to approve Enda Kenny as Taoiseach.

After hours of last-minute talks, Independent Alliance TDs and Fine Gael negotiators Simon Coveney and Michael Noonan have now returned to the Dáil chamber.

Update 1.53pm: Fine Gael negotiators Simon Coveney and Michael Noonan have returned to the Dáil chamber, prompting speculation that a vote on Taoiseach may be imminent.

Kevin Boxer Moran has returned to the chamber also.

Update 1.45pm: A 30-minute period for extra speakers has begun in the Dáil, with no vote for Taoiseach expected until after 2pm at the earliest.

Update 1.02pm: The Dáil debate on a Taoiseach nomination vote is being taken up by apparent filibustering amid ongoing crisis talks between Fine Gael and the Independent Alliance writes Fiachra Ó Cionnaith and Elaine Loughlin.

Ruth Coppinger of the AAA-PBP said that she has never seen an incoming Taoiseach looking "so unhappy".

She added that 75% of people did not want Mr Kenny returned as Taoiseach.

"The traditional rules apply, because the two traditional parties had to come to an agreement.

"This isn't a grand coalition, but it's certainly a first cousin of a grand coalition," she adds.

There is still no sign of Independent Alliance in the Dáil chamber as crisis background talks continue.

Dáil Ceann Comhairle Sean O Fearghail gave Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin, Sinn Féin's Gerry Adams and Labour's Joan Burton extra time to speak in the debate as the six key Independent have yet to emerge from negotiations.

In pointed references to the growing tension, all three Opposition leaders pointedly noted the Independents have yet to enter the Dail chamber.

Mr Martin said he "notes the non-attendance of the Independent Alliance".

While criticising the "Enda-dependents" for supporting Mr Kenny, Sinn Féin's Gerry Adams said despite their concern about Fine Gael parties "here they are [supporting them], or here they're not. Where are they?"

In a string of references to the situation, Labour's Joan Burton repeatedly said a deal will be struck "if talks ever finish at some stage".

She also confirmed the widely expected view that her party will vote against Mr Kenny's vote for Taoiseach.

Describing the Fine Gael-Fianna Fáil deal as "tawdry" and allowing Fianna Fáil to put its boot on Fine Gael's neck and pull down the government whenever it chooses, she said the current deal is wrong for the country.

The situation, and an apparent level of filibustering in the Dáil to delay the vote before a deal is done with the Independents, AAA-PBP TD Ruth Coppinger simply said:

Acting Finance Minister Michael Noonan and acting Defence Minister Simon Coveney are currently holding ongoing talks with the Independent Alliance in the nearby Government Buildings.

Update 12.47pm: Labour leader Joan Burton confirms that her party will be voting against Enda Kenny's nomination for Taoiseach.

Referring to the Independent Alliance, who have still not appeared in the Dáil chamber 40 minutes after business began, Ms Burton said: “We don’t know where they are yet but presumably they will show up."

Update 12.38pm: Sinn Féin leader Gerry Adams has just finished his speech after the Ceann Comhairle granted additional time for speeches ahead of a vote for Taoiseach.

“And the Enda-Dependents, who have almost signed up for this, many of them were among the most vocal opponents of Fine Gael and Labour’s policy agenda, “ he said.

“And yet here they are, or indeed, here they’re not. Where are they?"

Kerry TD Michael Healy-Rae said earlier that he will abstain, Mattie McGrath claims he won't vote for Enda Kenny and will stay in opposition, while the Social Democrats will vote against Mr Kenny instead of abstaining as they did the last time.

Update 12.25pm: The fourth Taoiseach nomination vote since the General Election has begun despite the Independent Alliance still holding talks with Michael Noonan and Simon Coveney over whether they will enter Government, writes Fiachra Ó Cionnaith, Political Reporter.

The six-strong Shane Ross-led group is currently meeting in Government Buildings with the Finance Minister and Environment Minister.

However, despite ongoing difficulties in agreeing a deal over turf cutting being pushed by Independent Alliance member Michael Fitzmaurice, just yards away the vote for Taoiseach has already begun.

While the actual ballot is unlikely to take place until after 1pm, speeches nominating Fine Gael leader Enda Kenny to become Taoiseach have already started.

To muffled laughter in the Dáil, Dublin North West TD Noel Rock nominated Mr Kenny for yet another time since the election, joking: "Fourth time's the charm".

Quoting Irish revolutionary Michael Collins, he said "a ship cannot go on without a captain" and that Mr Kenny "has the abilities" to lead.

Fine Gael chairwoman Catherine Byrne told the Dáil "we have no time to lose" 70 days on from the February 26 vote.

In a noticeably longer speech by junior minister Simon Harris, which some have suggested was designed to delay the vote and give space to the ongoing talks, the Fine Gael TD said Ireland needs a Government.

Fianna Fáil leader Micheal Martin subsequently responded by stressing his party "sought to replace" Fine Gael but was turned down "point blank" by other TDs.

Turning to the empty chairs in the Dáil caused by the ongoing talks taking place in the nearby Government Buildings, he pointedly said he "notes the non-attendance of the Independent Alliance".

Update 12.05am: TDs are now taking their seats in the chamber of Leinster House ahead of a vote for Taoiseach which is due to take place in the coming minutes.

However, there is still doubt as to whether the Indpendent Alliance will back Enda Kenny with some issues still unresolved.

Update 11.58am: Independent TD Michael Collins has confirmed he will not be voting for Enda Kenny in the now imminent Taoiseach nomination vote writes Fiachra O'Cionnaith.

The Cork South West politician and member of the five-strong rural TDs group announced the widely expected move to the Irish Examiner newspaper this morning.

The decision not to back the Fine Gael leader means just three members of the five-strong group - Noel Grealish, Michael Harty and Denis Naughten - are expected to back Mr Kenny.

The situation makes it even more necessary for Fine Gael to resolve ongoing issues on turf with the Independent Alliance.

Earlier: With just 15 minutes before the Taoiseach is due to enter the Dáil, the Independent Alliance have yet to reach agreement.

There are still major problems on the issue of turf cutting with Michael Fitzmaurice locked in talks with Fine Gael on the issue.

At 11.40am he confirmed that there had been no deal on bogs and turf cutters turf cutters rights.

Live: Dáil approves Enda Kenny as Taoiseach

The Independent Alliance had previously said that they would only go into Government if all members of the group agreed.

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