Micheál Martin a step closer to becoming Taoiseach as Fianna Fáil approve programme for government

Fianna Fáil have become the second party to approve the proposed programme for government.
Micheál Martin a step closer to becoming Taoiseach as Fianna Fáil approve programme for government
Michéal Martin will almost certainly become Taoiseach on Saturday. Picture: PA

Fianna Fáil has voted to approve the programme for government by a margin of 74% to 26%, paving the way for Michéal Martin to become Taoiseach on Saturday.

The resounding margin is far above what some had predicted, with fears early on Friday that the party's membership would be narrowly split on the deal. In the end, 8,194 members of the 11,000 ballots voted in favour of the coalition with the Green Party and Fine Gael.

Only one constituency - Galway West - voted against the deal, with the home of longtime opponent to the coalition Eamon Ó Cuív voting 235-131 against the deal. Party leader Michéal Martin's constituency of Cork South Central voted 94% in favour of the programme, with just eight members against.

Mr Martin said that the engagement in the "unique and historic exercise" was "very energetic".

"Democracy in our party is alive and well. I am delighted that the Programme for Government has been so overwhelmingly endorsed. I am grateful to the members for that. I am anxious we get on with the business of government."

Mr Martin said that the Fianna Fáil party was "much the better from the exercise".

Mr Martin said that he had not personally thought about the prospect of becoming the first Cork-born Taoiseach since Jack Lynch.

"Today is a working day, with certain tasks to be undertaken."

The Fianna Fáil leader says that while he "didn't spend the day" on phonecalls to independents, he has made contact with a number of TDs in a bid to ensure their support for his government.

"We have ongoing engagement with independents and it has been fairly hectic since the programme for government was agreed and a number of independents wanted to wait until the outcome of the votes.

"I did ring the independents because there is a vote tomorrow and on the basis of asking. We have had meetings with three groups of independents, so out of respect, I wanted to continue that."

Mr Martin accepted that geography and gender would be "very difficult" balance in his cabinet and said that the shape and structure of the government was "more or less" agreed with Leo Varadkar and Éamon Ryan. Mr Martin also revealed that the position of Attorney General would rotate between the parties, with Mr Varadkar nominating his own choice for the job when he takes the role of Taoiseach.

- Updated at 8.41pm

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