“real negotiations on a new government would not begin in earnest until after Easter….”

So the Dail is coming back on Thursday. Pretty much the only decision likely to be made on that day is the choosing of a new Ceann Comhairle. That will consist of two votes, the first a secret ballot to be held under PR STV then a concretising vote in the usual way.

Favourite at the moment is Dublin Central TD Maureen O’Sullivan, although most of the established parties are expected to put forward their own candidates. Sinn Fein Ard Comhairle got down to it today and chose Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin today.

Sinn Fein’s Ard Comhairle got down to it early and chose Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin today. By contrast Fianna Fail five possibles. Both have come in for some criticism for trying to game the position, but in fairness to all parties, reform did not go as far as abolishing the whip.

The circumstances that follow will only emphasise the radical nature of the decision to elect their own chair to the Dail because when it comes to voting for the next Taoiseach the attempt will fail because the parties are expected vote for their own man.

So Ireland will have a parliament and caretaker executive until after Easter. Sinn Fein wants to continue to bring ministers to the Dail to answer questions. Fianna Fail wants parliament to consider its future as a parliament free of the manipulation of a weakened executive.

In nearly one hundred years Ireland had not managed to develop the traditions that Westminster developed over time or the US-style constitutional protections that underline the separation of powers between executive and legislature.

It would be a shame to lose a moment of opportunity to interparty bickering before – after Easter – the real horse-trading is likely to begin in earnest.

Mick is founding editor of Slugger. He has written papers on the impacts of the Internet on politics and the wider media and is a regular guest and speaking events across Ireland, the UK and Europe. Twitter: @MickFealty

  • Jag

    The most important matter this week is deciding to establish committees in advance of a new government

  • mac tire

    A minor point: I think Ó Caoláin was nominated by SF during the middle of last week.

    Maureen O’Sullivan comes across as a very decent person and it would be good to see a woman in the Ceann Comhairle’s chair for a change. I do wonder, though, if she could control a new, more fractured Dáil. In saying that, perhaps her calmness and general attitude could also bring some sort of order to the potential mayhem.

  • steve white

    expand on that?

  • Ernekid

    Who from the Irish government is going to the White House for St. Patricks Day? Will Kenny go despite not really being the Taoiseach? Surely they should send President Higgins?

  • Jag

    Oireachtas committees were terminated when the election was called at the start of Feb. Health, finance & public accounts committees are amongst the most important Oireachtas organs. On Thursday this week, the 158 TDs can decide to re-establish committees and agree members.

    If the Dail isn’t meeting until April or whatever, if ministers are just care-taking their ministries then committees will be the most potent part of the OIreachtas.

  • mickfealty


  • Kevin Breslin

    I think an Independent TD is a good bet for the Speaker role, especially one that got so many transfers across the field as Maureen did.