Green Party leader Eamon Ryan will lead a beefed-up climate and transport department should a government deal between his party, Fine Gael, and Fianna Fáil be approved today.
The parties are on course to give the green light to a five-year deal which will allow a historic coalition between them be formed this weekend with outgoing Taoiseach Leo Varadkar declaring “a new government will be formed.”
Such an agreement would pave the way for Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin to become Taoiseach tomorrow, the first from Cork since Jack Lynch 41 years ago.
But already attention has shifted to the allocation of portfolios and the Irish Examiner understands:
- Fianna Fáil will hold the Housing portfolio with Fingal TD Darragh O’Brien tipped to be minister;
- Fine Gael are likely to land the Justice portfolio but are ready to relinquish control of the department of health;
- The Greens are set to assume the portfolio set to be vacated by Simon Harris but he looks set to remain at Cabinet;
- Both Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil are today to push to allocate the Department of Defence to a senior Cabinet post but sources have said Mr Martin could assume responsibility for it as Taoiseach;
- The Department of Children will be merged with the disabilities portfolio, following agreement between the three leaders;
- Paschal Donohoe is to remain on as finance minister with Fianna Fáil’s Michael McGrath assuming the Public Expenditure portfolio;
- To ensure the Greens have sight of key financial papers, the party will hold one of two junior finance minister positions;
- Fine Gael or Fianna Fáil will hold a “super junior” transport ministry in Mr Ryan’s department to ensure key projects are protected;
The three party leaders are to meet today to finalise the allocation of portfolios on the understanding the deal will be approved by their memberships.
Concern earlier this week that the Green Party grassroots would reject the deal dissipated on Thursday with a growing confidence that members would back going into government.
Senior figures in each of the parties have expressed a fresh degree of optimism that a government can be formed.
Speaking after Cabinet at Dublin Castle, outgoing Taoiseach Leo Varadkar has said the three-way coalition will pass and a new government will be formed.
“My prediction is the three parties will vote to go into coalition with each other. The yes vote will be larger than people expect in all three parties. There will be a new government,” he said.
Nonetheless, Mr Varadkar said there was “no plan B” or special deal to renew laws underpinning anti-terror laws if any party rejects the deal.
“There is no arrangement in place.”
However, if any party does in fact vote down the deal, he said he would need to reflect on that.
Mr Varadkar also said the three leaders were still negotiating over the shake-up of departments and that he had an idea what role he would like to play in the new coalition.
In terms of the vote, Fine Gael are too expecting to know their results first.
The counting of their ballots will commence at around 1pm today with a result expected by mid to late afternoon. The party will broadcast its count via its Facebook page.
Fianna Fáil’s ballot closed last night but with their one member, one vote system they will have many more ballots to count and while they are due to begin counting at 9am a result is not expected before 5pm. Again, they will be broadcasting their count online.
As for the Greens, their ballot does not close until 12pm midday today with counting to begin immediately and a result expected by about 7pm.
The three party general secretaries are to speak to coordinate the announcement this evening.
Should the result be approved, a full day’s sitting of the Dáil will commence at 10.30am on Saturday morning in Dublin’s Convention Centre to allow all 160 TDs be present under strict social distancing protocols.