Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin, Labour’s deputy leader Alan Kelly, and others on the opposition benches repeatedly lashed out at the new cabinet make-up just moments after it was announced.
Responding to Taoiseach Enda Kenny’s appointments in the Dáil Mr Martin said the new cabinet does not “break enough from the past” and represents a “shambolic and unacceptable” political environment.
Despite the fact his own party “facilitated” the new cabinet’s creation, the Fianna Fáil leader said “what happened in the last 48 hours leaves a lot to be desired”.
He said his party will honour the agreement struck last week with Fine Gael to allow the Government to work, but pointedly noted that “equally we retain the right and intention to use our mandate for our policy initiatives”.
In a series of strongly worded remarks, Mr Kelly insisted the new Government comprising Fine Gael and Independent TDs is “unfortunately doomed to failure” as it is simply “built on sand”.
He said that while it was an “honour” to serve with Mr Kenny in the previous Dáil and that “history will be kind” to the former Fine Gael-Labour partnership’s work, he said all of this is now at stake.
Mr Kelly said “we now have a Government, but it is built on sand” and that “everyone knows we’ve never had a Government in this state that’s been appointed in such farce”.
Labelling the situation as “bizarre and embarrassing”, Mr Kelly said that, “being frank”, the hours preceding the Cabinet announcement were “cringe-worthy”.
“This programme for government cannot ever actually add up,” he said.
Anti Austerity Alliance/People before Profit TD Mick Barry said the inclusion of Independents such as ex-Fine Gael-Labour Seanad appointee Katherine Zappone and ex-Fine Gael TD Denis Naughten meant that everyone in the next cabinet is “various shades of [Fine Gael] blue”.
Sinn Féin health spokesman Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin added that all the new Government has done is take part in “an effort to slow down the process of fundamental change under way”.
“It won’t wash and it won’t work,” said Mr Ó Caoláin. “What Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil [by facilitating the government] are doing is playing for time and kicking the inevitable down the road.”
Mr Ó Caoláin added that Mr Martin’s party is now the “government in exile”.