Kenny elected Taoiseach, appoints Gilmore Tánaiste

Wed, Mar 9, 2011, 00:00

Fine Gael leader Enda Kenny has been elected Taoiseach of the 31st Dáil and has named his new Cabinet.

He received his seal of office from President Mary McAleese at Áras an Uachtaráin this afternoon following his election as Taoiseach by a margin of 117 votes to 27.

There are 10 Fine Gael Ministers and five from Labour. They received their seals of office from Ms McAleese at Arás an Uachtaráin tonight and are holding their first Cabinet meeting there now.

A number of Government departments have been reconfigured and others have been created.

Labour Party leader Eamon Gilmore was named as Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade. Fine Gael's Michael Noonan and Dr James Reilly take the finance and health portfolios respectively.

Brendan Howlin has been handed the new public expenditure and reform portfolio, a second Department of Finance ministry outlined in the new programme for government.

Richard Bruton has been given enterprise, jobs and innovation and Labour's Joan Burton will be Minister for Social Protection.

The newly-created Department of Children will be headed by Fine Gael's Frances Fitzgerald.

Pat Rabbitte will take over at the Department of Communications, Energy and Natural Resources, Leo Varadkar gets the new transport, tourism and sport brief and Alan Shatter will be minister for justice, equality and defence.

Ruairí Quinn takes over at education and skills, Phil Hogan gets environment, community and local government, Jimmy Deenihan takes arts, heritage and Gaeltacht affairs and Simon Coveney will head the new Department of Agriculture, Marine and Food.

Paul Kehoe will be the Chief Whip and the Attorney General position goes to Labour appointee Máire Whelan. Labour's Willie Penrose has been given the new 'super junior' role, which sees him take responsibility for housing and planning at the Department of Environment. He will have a seat at the Cabinet table, but not a vote.

Speaking after his election as Taoiseach, Mr Kenny said: "Our lives and our futures are predicated on one thing - truth. I am entering into a covenant with the Irish people today. Our new government will tell the people the truth, no matter how difficult that may be.

“I believe the old ways, the old politics damaged us not just financially but emotionally and psychologically ... Our programme for government is fair and is truly radical. We will achieve our objectives working side by side with the Irish people,” Mr Kenny said.

"Let us believe in our future. Let us lift up our heads and turn our faces to the sun and hang out our brightest colours. We will make our nation proud, prosperous and respected again."

Fine Gael's Simon Harris, the youngest TD in his party, nominated Mr Kenny for taoiseach and the motion was seconded by Labour’s Waterford TD Ciara Conway.

Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin backed Mr Kenny's nomination, saying he would not support any other person for the position.

Independent TD Shane Ross also supported the nomination, saying Mr Kenny had received a mandate from the Irish people, but added he was "dispirited" with the programme for government published by Fine Gael and the Labour Party.

Mr Kenny’s nomination was opposed by a number of Independent TDs and by Joe Higgins of the Socialist Party who said it was a vote for more of the same policies pursued by the outgoing government.

Sinn Féin president Gerry Adams said his party could not support a taoiseach who was going to introduce water charges and property taxes.

Richard Boyd Barrett of the People Before Profit Alliance/ULA also opposed Mr Kenny's nomination, saying the Labour Party should be ashamed to enter government with Fine Gael.

Independent TDs John Halligan, Tom Flanagan, Mick Wallace and Luke 'Ming' Flanagan also said they could not support the nomination.

Earlier, Mr Kenny nominated party colleague Seán Barrett for the position of Ceann Comhairle. Mr Gilmore, Mr Martin and Mr Adams supported the nomination and the Dún Laoghaire TD was elected unopposed.

Mr Barrett said it was an honour to be elected to the position and the 31st Dáil would be one of the most important since the formation of the State. "Our task is to live up to the confidence the people have placed in us. We need a modern Dáil where there is open and constructive debate. I will be pro-active in the areas where the Ceann Comhairle can contribute," he said.