A second Dáil vote for Taoiseach is set to go ahead on Thursday as parties continue to meet and debate policies in an attempt to form a government.
Labour has indicated that it will table a motion to the Dáil’s business committee for the vote, which other parties are expected to allow. Fine Gael, Sinn Féin, and others have indicated their support for it.
Outgoing Labour leader Brendan Howlin wrote to Ceann Comhairle Seán Ó Fearghaíl and the committee late last week seeking the fresh vote.
The move comes amid an awareness among leaders to step up talks to form a government after the first case of coronavirus was confirmed here and as post-Brexit trade negotiations begin tomorrow.
Nonetheless, even with a fresh vote for Taoiseach, which could be agreed by an incorporeal meeting of the committee as early as tomorrow, the outcome is expected to be the same as it was on February 20, when no leader came close to securing sufficient support to lead the country.
The business committee ruled out the vote last Thursday, but Labour pushed on Friday for one to proceed.
Fine Gael will tomorrow begin two days of meetings with the Greens before holding what is being deemed a seminar or one-day policy meeting with Fianna Fáil on Wednesday.
Fine Gael sources insist the talks are non-committal, given that the party intends to go into opposition.
“This week isn’t a negotiation,” said a source. “That’s why the Taoiseach was clear that he wasn’t appointing a negotiating team.”
Much attention will focus on the Fianna Fail-Fine Gael meeting, and whether the two sides will speed up talks, given that coronavirus has arrived on Irish shores.
Tense EU-UK negotiations on a future trade deal also begin tomorrow, amid threats from London to trigger a fresh Brexit no-deal scenario.
Wednesday’s meeting between Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil is expected to include discussion on affordable childcare, income tax change proposals and affordable housing. However, Government sources also stress that the talks between Fine Gael and the Greens will be equally important.
They come on the back of emerging gaps between the Greens and Fianna Fáil on transport funding and climate change provisions, following tough talks between those two sides last week.
MEPs, TDs, and senators will all three groups will be updated at their party meetings in Leinster House during the week on government formation talks.
Meanwhile, Sinn Féin is scheduled to meet the Social Democrats, the Green Party, People Before Profit, Independents4Change, and other Independent TDs for talks this week.
Mary Lou McDonald’s party will also hold a further open public meeting in Cavan tonight, while another one is scheduled in Galway on Friday.
Sinn Féin’s attempts to lead a left-leaning government have received a boost after a Behaviour and Attitudes opinion poll on the weekend put support for the party at 35%, a rise of 10 points since the election.
The surge for Ms McDonald’s party saw losses for others, with Fine Gael slipping 3 points and Fianna Fail 2 since the February 8 vote. Satisfaction ratings for Ms McDonald have also surged by 13 points to 53%, 22 points ahead of her nearest rival Micheál Martin.
The Fianna Fáil leader is down 15 points to 31% while satisfaction for Taoiseach Leo Varadkar is down eight points to 27%. The poll was conducted from face-to-face interviews with 917 eligible voters on February 17 to 25.