Caretaker Taoiseach Enda Kenny will not have to go to Áras an Uachtaráin today if he fails to win enough votes to form a new government.
An Oireachtas spokesperson has confirmed the Fine Gael leader will instead be allowed continue negotiations, with a timeline for the next vote to be set by the Dáil itself.
After a number of nominees failed in their bids to become taoiseach on March 10, Mr Kenny was forced to travel to Áras an Uachtaráin to give his resignation to President Michael D Higgins.
The meeting, which occurred late in the evening and without any publicity, was required as Mr Kenny had to formally accept he had not been re-elected and request more time for talks to take place.
It has been suggested in recent days that Mr Kenny would be forced to travel the same journey again today if, as expected, he fails to win enough support in the Dáil vote — and in any subsequent votes that may follow over the coming weeks.
However, an Oireachtas spokesperson has confirmed this is not the case and that, in effect, after today’s vote Mr Kenny will simply continue as caretaker taoiseach, with the Dáil itself agreeing on when the next vote should be held without any involvement from Mr Higgins.
This afternoon’s ballot of TDs is expected to see the gap between Mr Kenny and Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin remain intact, with neither making substantial ground towards the required 79 seats to form a government.
If this occurs, the Dáil will then hold a short debate on when the next vote should take place.
After this timeline — likely to last between two and three weeks — is agreed, the current arrangement of the previous government remaining in situ will continue while the next round of talks take place.
A spokesperson for Mr Higgins declined to comment as the matter is solely an Oireachtas matter.
However, it is understood that Mr Higgins’ only involvement will be if Mr Kenny draws the conclusion that no government of any nature can be formed and that a second election is required, or if a government is formed.
The issue is governed by Articles 13 and 16 of the Constitution, and has precedent in the fact that the same scenario has played out after unclear election results in Ireland, most notably during a number of elections in the 1980s.
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