“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.