Independent TDs to abstain from vote for taoiseach
Enda Kenny and Micheál Martin due to finally talk this evening
Independent TDs (left to right) Noel Grealish, Mattie McGrath, Denis Naughten, Michael Harty and Michael Collins have confirmed they will be abstaining from today’s Dáil vote for taoiseach. Photograph: Gareth Chaney/Collins
Two blocks of independent TDs have confirmed they will be abstaining from the Dáil vote for taoiseach on Wednesday.
The Independent Alliance and a group of five rural TDs said they would be abstaining, as have Dublin South-West TD Katherine Zappone, Dublin Central TD Maureen O’Sullivan.
Dáil proceedings began Wednesday afternoon with sharp exchanges as Ceann Comhairle Seán Ó Fearghail turned down an Opposition demand for an emergency debate on housing.
Sinn Féin deputy leader Mary Lou McDonald sought to move a motion setting up a group of TDs to deal with the “absolute catastrophe’’ facing families in need of housing.
PBP-AAA TD Richard Boyd Barrett accused the “establishment parties’’ of engaging in an elaborate political charade while the crisis in homelessness was being ignored.
He s aid “urgent, comprehensive and radical action’’ was needed to deal with the homelessness crisis which was inflicting hardship on families, mostly children.
A practical measure would be to instruct Nama to stop any sales of land or property and concentrate on the provision of homes for those in need, he said.
Mr Ó Fearghail explained that could not be done under current standing orders and there was a constitutional imperative to elect a taoiseach.
In advance of the Dáil sitting, the 15 Independent TDs met the Fine Gael party.
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Sources said the meeting was tense as TDs were urged to declare their vote today.
It is not known when Mr Kenny and Mr Martin will meet. However it is expected the first discussions will take place on Wednesday evening.
The Fianna Fáil parliamentary party will meet at 11am on Thursday to discuss the negotiations.
On Tuesday, Mr Kenny confirmed he would meet Mr Martin after the Dáil vote for taoiseach to discuss if an arrangement can be reached between the two parties.
Shane Ross TD of the Independent Alliance confirmed it would abstain from Wednesday’s vote on the grounds that it was continuing to negotiate with Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil on possible government programmes.
Fine Gael had produced a 120-page document for consideration, while Fianna Fáil had to date produced a series of shorter and less detailed documents, Mr Ross told RTÉ Radio’s News at One.
Asked what was the point of such negotiations when there were not enough Independent TDs to form a government with either party, he said “I don’t think they are a waste of time”.
He said the alliance had advanced a number of radical policies and the fact that these were being discussed was itself progress.
Independent Kerry TD Michael Healy Rae sadi “there isn’t a whole pile between them” in reference to documents received from Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil. “Today won’t decide anything,” he added. “The whole process has been long and drawn out and people want to see it end. Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael are going to be the masters of the destination.
“I would hope that they are up for some sort of deal, if not there will be an election on 20 May,” he told RTE’s Morning Ireland. “The sooner they get talking the better.”
The group of five rural TDs, comprising Denis Naughton, Mattie McGrath, Michael Collins, Michael Harty and Noel Grealish, have also confirmed they will abstain from today’s vote.
The Labour party said it would abstain on the Dáil vote for Mr Kenny as taoiseach but would vote against all other candidates, on the basis that Fine Gael was the only party that has sent Labour a proposed programme for government.
Party leader Joan Burton said Wednesday it would attempt to form a “progressive alliance” with the Social Democrats and the Green Party in the new Dáil.
Sinn Féin’s 23 TDs will vote against both Mr Kenny and Mr Martin today, its leader Gerry Adams said.
The party will abstain in the vote for Anti-Austerity-People Before Profit Alliance TD Ruth Coppinger.
Mr Adams said he was willing to speak to the two main parties about the formation of government. However he said the party did not have the mandate to enter coalition as a junior party to either Fine Gael or Fianna Fáil.
Mr Adams also confirmed he will stand for leader of his party again, having held the post for 33 years.
At the Fine Gael parliamentary meeting party on Tuesday night, Mr Kenny was urged to maintain the party’s position on Irish Water, the retention of which remains a key issue for many of its deputies.
Several backbenchers expressed concern that a government supported by Independents would not last and criticised the Independents for taking credit for the Fine Gael’s proposals on rural issues.