Alan Kelly will have to settle for a position below Howlin, and is likely to be a brooding, bulky presence in a parliamentary party too small to pretend he isn’t there.

Brendan Howlin must bring the party back to its core and reclaim working-class votes

The process that resulted in Brendan Howlin becoming the new leader of the Labour Party was seamless. Photograph: Cyril Byrne / The Irish Times

Analysis: In the end it was a coronation for the new Labour leader, writes Harry McGee

By appointing 18 junior ministers, Enda Kenny has stretched the toleration point to its limits, and possibly beyond. All the more so because 15 of the Ministers of State are from his own party, Fine Gael. Photograph: Alan Betson/The Irish Times

There is no rationale for 15 FG Ministers of State other than keeping ambitious TDs sweet

Speaking rights: Taoiseach Enda Kenny, Fianna Fáil’s Micheál Martin, Labour’s Brendan Howlin, Social Democrat Catherine Murphy, Independent Michael Fitzmaurice and Richard Boyd Barrett of AAA-PBP. Photographs: The Irish Times

Reducing requirement for speaking rights among key recommendations for 32nd Dáil

Fine Gael TD Helen McEntee at Leinster House on Kildare Street, Dublin. File  photograph: Gareth Chaney/Collins

Analysis: Enda Kenny must play a careful game with his ministerial appointments

Eoghan Murphy, Marcella Corcoran Kennedy, David Stanton and   Regina Doherty launching Fine Gael’s  Oireachtas Reform Programme in March. Photograph: Alan Betson

Delay in forming government means new legislation unlikely to be enacted before July

Minister for Finance Michael Noonan has claimed Fianna Fáil legislation to reduce mortgage interest rates is ‘seriously flawed’. Photograph: Nick Bradshaw/The Irish Times

Michael Noonan says proposal ‘seriously flawed’ and Central Bank doesn’t want new powers

The stock of Labour TD Alan Kelly (R), pictured with Brendan Howlin, is low with party colleagues. Photograph: Gareth Chaney/Collins

Inside Politics: The Government will lose more votes than it wins in the new House

Senior Labour party figures including Seán Sherlock and Jan O’Sullivan are supporting Brendan Howlin (above) for the leadership. File photograph: Gareth Chaney/Collins

Deputy chief has no backers for leadership as other six party TDs join behind Howlin

Fianna Fáil finance spokesman Michael McGrath: tabled the Central Bank (Variable Rate Mortgages) Bill 2016. Photgraph: Aidan Crawley

Sinn Féin likely to support Fianna Fáil legislation giving Central Bank new powers

M-Pesa: millions of Kenyans use agencies like this one to transfer money by mobile phone. Photograph: Bloomberg

In a country with limited banking and few landlines, cell phones are used to transfer funds by text, to send hungry people money i(...)

New chief whip Regina Doherty speaking at the launch of Fine Gael’s Oireachtas Reform Programme at the Dáil last March, with party members Marcella Corcoran Kennedy, Eoghan Murphy  and David Stanton. Photograph: Alan Betson/The Irish Times

Only five outgoing ministers are in the frame including Damien English and Michael Ring

Under the new programme for government, expected to be published this week, hospital services will be run by statutory trusts which will own their assets and manage the recruitment of their own staff. File photograph: Getty Images

Programme includes special provision of €50m to cut waiting times at hospitals

Minister for Communications, Climate Change and Natural Resources Denis Naughten: “We have an overdependency on imported fuels. Wind farms will play a part in reducing that dependency. Photograph: Colin Keegan, Collins Dublin

Minister clarifies position after Saturday’s comments in favour of local consultation

The 32nd Dáil will be very different from the last. The working model where government proposes and parliament disposes is gone. Photograph: Michael Quinn

Members of the new ‘coalition’ must get over the small stuff if it is going to work

 Independent TD Denis Naughten, who left Fine Gael over Roscommon hospital issue, is now Minister for   Communications, Climate Change and Natural Resources in Fine Gael-led Government.  Photograph: Gareth Chaney/Collins

Denis Naughten mends ties with Kenny while Shane Ross brings five of his Alliance home

A file image of newly appointed Minister for Social Protection  Leo Varadkar, newly appointed Minister for Education Richard Bruton and Taoiseach Enda Kenny, who has radically reshuffled his ministerial team. Photograph: David Sleator/The Irish Times.

Analysis: A much different ministerial line-up reflects a heavily changed Dáil

Michael Fitzmaurice, a former chair of the Turf-Cutters’ Association, has outstanding issues and was arguing against the tide of EU habitats directives on turf-cutting. Photograph: Alan Betson/The Irish Times

Inside Politics: Will it be a two-year government or a two-month fiasco?

The government to be announced tomorrow will have a very different configuration than anything that has gone before.. Photograph: Aidan Crawley

Government will have a very different configuration than anything before, writes Harry McGee

Fianna Fáil TD Jim O’Callaghan outside Leinster House. Photograph: Nick Bradshaw

Party might find it difficult to play roles of opposition and support

 Independent Kerry TD Danny  Healy Rae (right) with his brother Michael. Photograph: Alan Betson/The Irish Times

Independent Kerry TD says carbon tax costing community massive sums of money

‘Adams has come out with some very strange tweets in his time, but the misjudgement and inappropriateness involved in this one was galling and immediate. The word is racist and a slur. It is not appropriate to use it in any circumstances. Full stop.’ Photograph: Reuters

Inside politics: ‘The misjudgement involved in Adams’ tweet was galling and immediate’

Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil  have looked at the workings of  minority governments in countries such as Denmark, New Zealand, Canada, Germany, Sweden and Scotland. Photograph: Alan Betson/The Irish Times.

Ireland about to join several countries where a different style of politics takes place

The Northern Ireland Assembly election will take place on Thursday, May 5th. Each of the 18 constituencies – including Newry and Armagh – will elect six Members of the Legislative Assembly (MLAs).

Conor Murphy, who has done a bit of a Lannigan’s Ball dance here, should top the poll again

 Fine Gael’s negotiating team leaving talks in TCD on Tuesday. L to R:   Leo Varadkar, Frances Fitzgerald, Paschal Donohue and Simon Coveney. Photograph:  Nick Bradshaw/The Irish Times

Difficulties of reaching deal nothing compared to what comes next

Sinn Féin leader Gerry Adams. File photograph: Aidan Crawley/The Irish Times

Sinn Féin leader says FF would be ‘off the hook’ on the issue if it allowed Dáil vote

The Northern Ireland Assembly election will take place on Thursday, May 5th. Each of the 18 constituencies – including Foyle – will elect six Members of the Legislative Assembly (MLAs).

Will return of Martin McGuinness finally swing Derry in Sinn Féin’s direction?

Deputy First Leader of Northern Ireland, Sinn Féin’s Martin McGuinness, outside the GPO on Dublin’s O’Connell Street, Sunday, April 24th,  where the party  hosted a pageant leading up to a re-enaction of the reading there of the Proclamation by Patrick Pearse.  Photograph: Nick Bradshaw/The Irish Times

Sinn Féin event marks 100-year anniversary of Rising with pageantry and re-enactments

Sinn Féin leader Gerry Adams at the 2016 party ardfheis  in Dublin. Mr Adams has been the party’s leader for three decades now - and counting. Photograph: Clodagh Kilcoyne/Reuters

Gerry Adams will not step down at ardfheis. Relatively soon, we are told. When is that?

Joan Burton’s party took a trouncing in the general election. If it goes into government, what’s to prevent its support haemorrhaging even further, to the point of extinction? File photograph: Eric Luke/The Irish Times

Inside politics: Labour’s rebuild has to happen in opposition, not government

Emmet Stagg: The former Kildare North Labour deputy  said entering a government arrangement would be disastrous for Labour and the idea should be opposed. Photograph: Aidan Crawley

Most councillors, TDs and former TDs contacted oppose entering a coalition

While Labour is cool on coalition, Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil have discussed the future of Irish Water and the charges

Burton and Howlin sceptical on prospect of coalition, with grassroots ‘very, very, cool’

Maura Hopkins busy canvassing in Wicklow town for the upcoming Seanad Éireann election 2016. Photograph: Garry O’Neill

Sidelights of Irish political life: Car parks, farm lanes and enduring absence from home

Outside the Dáil on Tuesday are Fianna Fáil’s Jim O Callaghan TD and Independent Mattie McGrath TD   as  talks to form a government continue. Photograph: Sam Boal/

Discussions on forming a government to centre on Irish Water, housing and health service

A new government will be radically different from anything we have seen in the State

Inside Politics: The government talks between Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil teams were a leak-free zone

 FF leader Micheál Martin: “We will agree to a process which can allow a [minority] government to be formed and for that government to have reasonable security based on a fully transparent framework.” Photograph: Eric Luke

Issues that have potential to bring down a government need to be sorted out in advance

Acting Taoiseach and Fine Gael leader Enda Kenny at Government Buildings. File photograph: Cyril Byrne/The Irish Times

FG, FF and Independent TDs say arrangement would need to last for three budgets

Jim O’Callaghan TD:  hosted meeting in his home with Leo Varadkar and with  Enda Kenny’s policy adviser and Micheál Martin’s chief adviser. Photograph:  Jason Clarke Photography

Analysis: Call by Independent Alliance for separate meetings spurs parties to talk

Mood music failed to hit right note for Fine Gael leader Enda Kenny and Fianna Fáil chief Micheál Martin. Photograph Barbara Lindberg.

Fine Gael soundings on deal with FF all very well – but they were talking to wrong people

Fine Gael TDs Paschal Donohoe, Minister for Transport and Michael Ring arrive at Leinster House, Dublin ahead of Fine Gael  parliamentary party meeting. Photograph: Brian Lawless/PA Wire

Some deputies describe partnership offer by acting Taoiseach as bold and brave

Enda Kenny and Micheál Martin have only three options: a minority government, some form of coalition or partnership or another election.

Analysis: There are limited options left now as political talks move to the end game

Enda Kenny and Micheál Martin will meet later today. Their task is not easy: to come up with some agreement that will allow one (or, less likely, both) rule for a minimum defined period of time. Photograph: Cyril Byrne/The Irish Times

Inside politics: Meeting between FG and FF leaders will overshadow vote on Taoiseach

 Alex White: claims are being made that roles such his as Minister at his point were  making less and less sense in absence of a government. Photograph: Patrick Bolger

Role in government ‘just keeps everything in suspension’

Shane Ross  with TDs from the Independent Alliance  and  Aisling Dunne, one of the party’s co-ordinators for talks with Fianna Fáil. Photograph:

Move to lower threshold will benefit the Anti-Austerity Alliance-People Before Profit

‘It has been more than a month since the country voted in the general election but the pathway to government formation looks as uncertain as it did when the results first came in.’ File photograph: Aidan Crawley

Analysis: Fine Gael TDs fear Independents do not fully grasp the reality of power

Caretaker Taoiseach: Enda Kenny is still 28 seats short of a majority. Photograph: Eric Luke

How will it be possible to create a leading party from the mix of votes in the election?

Acting Taoiseach Enda Kenny  with  Teresa Moran, Raheny, aged 100, who has been counted in 17 censuses, and Dorothea Findlater, Blackrock, who is 106 years’ old and has been counted in 18 censuses.  Photograph: Conor McCabe

The census on April 24th will give a picture of Irish life that will inform policymakers

Questionnaire virtually unchanged because CSO did not have budget for consultation

No government will survive without a thought-out strategy on what to do with Irish Water and water charges.  Photograph: Caroline Quinn/AFP/Getty Images

These are the issues that will matter in any government arrangement

Michael McGrath is one of four TDs on Fianna Fáil’s negotiating team. File photograph: Collins.

Four TDs given authority to negotiate with interested parties and individuals

Perturbed: Enda Kenny during the general-election campaign. Photograph: Brian Lawless/PA Wire

Kenny has regained some brio but his days as leader are numbered, writes Harry McGee

Micheál Martin dismisses any suggestion a strong majority was required for stability. Photograph: Alan Betson

Fianna Fáil hardens insistence it’s either a minority government or an election

 Gerry Adams: “We will abide by the mandate we are given.” Photograph: Gareth Chaney/Collins

Party will not enter into any arrangements with FF or FG

 Sinn Féin leader Gerry Adams: said his party would be the largest left-wing party in the Dáil . File photograph: Clodagh Kilcoyne/Reuters

Party president admits it ‘hit a few crossbars’ during election campaign

Taoiseach Enda Kenny and four senior Fine Gael colleagues are due to have meetings with Independents and smaller party TDs on Tuesday. Photograph: Thierry Charlier/AFP/Getty Images

Fine Gael leader accepts ‘no one will be elected taoiseach’ when Dáil first meets

Michael Fitzmaurice: “There’s an awful lot of shadow boxing and lot of old BS”

Non-aligned TDs ask to see parties’ policy programmes and demand Dáil reform

 Independent TD Maureen O’Sullivan: examining the pros and cons. Photograph: Gareth Chaney/Collins

If elected under new secret ballot system, she would be the first woman to chair the Dáil

Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin is unlikely to bridge the gap of 13 votes between him and Fine Gael leader Enda Kenny when the vote for Taoiseach takes place on Thursday.  File  photograph: Aidan Crawley

Independents and smaller parties set to abstain or vote against FF and FG

Jack Chambers, who was elected as a Fianna Fáil TD for Dublin West, has been attacked over his appearance and his views on abortion. Photograph: Alan Betson

Jack Chambers was among the victims of the personal attacks which are now the norm

Minister for Health Leo Varadkar (left) has strongly backed the leadership of Taoiseach Enda Kenny (right) despite accepting that Fine Gael was resoundingly defeated in the general election. Photograph: Brenda Fitzsimons/The Irish Times.

Minister for Health says Taoiseach has mandate to try form government

Timmy Dooley Fianna Fáil pictured outside the Dail on Thursday. Photograph: Dave Meehan/The Irish Times

Micheál Martin tells party meeting he has had discussions with a view to winning support

“The Ipsos MRBI poll for The Irish Times underestimated support for Micheál Martin’s party by 1.5 per cent.” Photograph: Leon Neal/AFP/Getty Images

Anomaly a combination of ‘overestimation, underestimation and a late swing’

Up for the count: Micheál Martin celebrates his re-election in Cork. Photograph:  Michael Mac Sweeney/Provision

Biding its time won the race for the party and solidified its leader’s position, for now

Enda Kenny will discuss his response to the result with ministerial colleagues, while FF leader Micheál Martin indicated the new Dáil should not represent more business as usual. Photographs: The Irish Times

Fianna Fáil calls for political reform to be agreed before the new Dáil convenes

Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin has made the first significant move by a party since the general election with a strong pitch calling for major political reform to be agreed before the new Dáil convenes.  Photograph: Brian Lawless/PA Wire.

Micheál Martin says there must be changes in ‘the way politics is done in our country’

Green Party leader Eamon Ryan and deputy leader Catherine Martin celebrate their election at the count centre in the RDS. Photograph: Eric Luke/The Irish Times

Eamon Ryan and Catherine Martin have focused on core issues since 2011 wipeout

“You’ll be whinging Friday” – a defaced Enda Kenny election campaign poster on the road from Claremorris to Castlebar in Co Mayo, the Taoiseach’s constituency. Photograph: Paul Mealey

As the campaign flagged, blunders took on a life of their own

Micheál Martin.  Photograph: Michael Mac Sweeney/Provision

Micheál Martin was probably the star turn of the campaign

Fianna Fáil Leader Micheál Martin (centre) and Michael McGrath (left) celebrate after being elected in Cork South Central. Photograph: Chris Radburn/PA Wire.

Officials believe party could edge out Fine Gael to finish with largest number of seats

The tallies indicate that Lucinda Creighton represents Renua’s only hope of winning a seat. Photograph: Eric Luke / The Irish Times

Róisín Shortall says Social Democrats may review leadership after dust settles

Sinn Féin will make gains but they may also lose out where they were expected to win.   Photograph: Alan Betson / The Irish Times

Never have so many got so few predictions right, writes Harry McGee

 Sinn Féin’s deputy leader Mary Lou McDonald celebrates  winnining her seat in Dublin Central. Photograph: Aidan Crawley/EPA

Paschal Donohoe and Mary Lou McDonald elected as Gary Gannon loses out on last count

Bríd Smith of the Anti Austerity Alliance-People Before Profit party is elected in Dublin South Central count at the RDS. Photograph: Eric Luke / The Irish Times

Unite trade unionist says Labour ‘deserves’ its punishment at the polls

A man removes a campaign poster for Fianna Fáil leader Micheal Martin after polling stations closed in Dublin. Photograph:Darren Staples/Reuters

Irish politics has waded into quicksand and Fine Gael coronation has become Coronation Street

Labour Party leader Joan Burton and candidate Joe Costello arrive to vote at St Joseph’s School for Deaf Boys on the Navan Road, Dublin. Photograph: Gareth Chaney/Collins

Tánaiste votes at St Joseph’s School for Deaf Boys on the Navan Road after canvassing earlier

The seed of a narrative - that Gerry Adams is “not great on the sums” - had been sown in two media interviews last week. Photograph: Eric Luke / The Irish Times

His difficulties with ‘the sums’ began with two media interviews and spread to the TV debates

Sinn Féin finance spokesman Pearse Doherty, deputy leader Mary Lou McDonald, president Gerry Adams and  Cork South-Central candidate Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire ahead of the party’s final press conference of the general election campaign. Photograph: Gareth Chaney Collins

Leader dismisses fluctuating poll performances and highlights Kenny ‘cronyism’

The spread of wind energy has met resistance among those who complain  they are  intrusive and this local opposition has percolated into manifestos. Photograph:  Ben Curtis/PA Photo

UCD climate-change lecturer Cara Augustenborg analyses party manifestos

All four leaders used a tactic whereby they were asked a question and within a millisecond were giving an answer that bore no relation to it.  Photograph: Maxwell’s

Each of the four had something to win and something to lose, writes Harry McGee

Outgoing Fine Gael TDs Seán Kyne and John O’Mahony are set to come in behind Fianna Fáil’s Éamon Ó Cuív for the second and third seats in Galway West

TG4 survey: FF TD Éamon Ó Cuív to be elected first despite support shy of calculations

Fianna Fáil election candidates (L to R) Darragh O’Brien, Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin,Timmy Dooley and  Lorraine Clifford Lee. Photograph: Gareth Chaney Collins

‘The public likes an underdog,’ a senior FF spokesman says

On Sunday, Taoiseach Enda Kenny said he did not regret his comments about “whingers” in Castlebar, adding: “Some of them wouldn’t know sunshine if they saw it.” Photograph: Aidan Crawley/Bloomberg

Taoiseach says insulting locals in his hometown not intended as opponents leap on gaffe

Universal Social Charge  was introduced in 2010 by the then Fianna Fáil-led government. Photograph: Getty Images

Contentious levy generates €4bn in annual revenue for State, but parties split on future

Fine Gael TD James Bannon is from Legan, Co Longford

Longford-Westmeath TD James Bannon said it was just a misunderstanding

Is there a late surprise left in this general election campaign? Photograph: Eric Luke / The Irish Times

Inside Politics: Is there still a chance of a late, late rush to a particular party or group?

Sinn Féin deputy leader Mary Lou McDonald has portrayed a Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil coalition as the “nightmare scenario” for anyone who believes in equality.

Sinn Féin deputy leader says she has endured Taoiseach’s ‘whinging’ for five years

Tánaiste Joan Burton with Derek Nolan TD, a Labour candidate in Galway West, during her visit to Galway city last week. Photograph: Joe O’Shaughnessy

A good one-on-one operator, the Labour leader keeps spirits up despite the polls

The top issue being discussed by Facebook users was the economy, followed by health and infrastructure

Clear differences emerge between parties on the issues of abortion and corporation tax

Sinn Féin leader Gerry Adams and Emily Pepper (six months) at the Togher Family Centre, Cork, during the election canvass. Photograph: Daragh McSweeney/Provision

Sinn Féin’s chief struggles with detail but the veteran is in no mood to ‘hang up’ his boots

Minister for Finance Michael Noonan (centre), with Leo Varadkar TD (L) and Simon Harris (R), announcing plans to abolish the USC by 2020. Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill/The Irish Times

Inside Politics: Michael Noonan accuses Fianna Fáil of a ‘massive deception’

Enda Kenny: he claimed Udarás na Gaeltachta had achieved the highest increase in job-creation since 2005 and that 600 new jobs would be created in Gaeltacht areas next year

Taoiseach favours higher level of recruitment of Irish speakers to ensure people can conduct business in Irish

Enda Kenny said he favoured a higher level of recruitment of Irish speakers to ensure that people could conduct businesss in Irish. Photograph: PA

Taoiseach reveals intention for ramped up Gaeilge recruitment during TG4 interview

Michael and Danny Healy-Rae are on the cusp on being returned to Dáil Éireann. Photographs: The Irish Times

Brothers in touching distance of regal success if vote management strategy employed

Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin on the campaign trail in Killarney, Co Kerry, with one of the party’s candidates, Cllr Norma Foley. Photograph: Valerie O’Sullivan

Party leader shows his years of election experience on a campaign visit to Kerry

The Leaders on stage from left: Richard Boyd Barrett, People Before Profit Alliance, Gerry Adams, Sinn Fein, Micheal Martin, Fianna Fail, Taoiseach Enda Kenny, Fine Gael, Joan Burton, Tanaiste Joan Burton, Stephen Donnelly, Social Democrats and Lucinda Creighton, Renua at the RTE Claire Byrne Live Leaders Debate. Photograph: Alan Place FusionShooters.

Seven leaders, a strong chair, small party leaders perfoming well and a Nicola Sturgeon

Taoiseach Enda Kenny says he is not contemplating going into Government with Fianna Fáil. Photograph: Eric Luke

‘I’ve ruled them out on at least ten occasions in the last fortnight and I do so again now’

A planned debate in Irish between the party leaders was cancelled due to the lack of fluency of both Labour leader Joan Burton and Sinn Féin president Gerry Adams. Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill/The Irish Times

Plan runs aground after Labour offers junior minister as ‘substitute’ for party leader

Taoiseach Enda Kenny during a general election canvassing stop at Ballaghaderreen, Co Roscommon. Photograph: Alan Betson/The Irish Times.

Powered by Bruce and a Troy McClure smile, Taoiseach seeks second term

Taoiseach Enda Kenny (centre) and  Fine Gael  Ministers (from left) James Reilly , Paschal Donohoe, Simon Coveney, Richard Bruton, Leo Varadkar, Frances Fitzgerald and Heather Humphreys arriving for the launch of the Fine Gael Manifesto  in Dublin. Photograph: Eric Luke/The Irish Times.

Caution replaces expansive brave new world offering put forward by party five years ago

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