Parties have voted for the programme for government – what happens next?

More than four months of political deadlock have been broken after members of Fianna Fail, Fine Gael and the Green Party voted to pass the programme for government.

By the time new Taoiseach Micheal Martin is elected, it will be 135 days since February’s election – more than double the 63 days it took to form a government after the 2016 general election.

– So the three parties have approve the deal, what happens next?

There will be a full sitting of the Irish parliament – the Dail  – in the Convention Centre, Dublin, on Saturday morning to elect Micheal Martin as the new Irish premier.

The Dail cannot sit in Leinster House as usual due to social distancing as every TD needs to be there to vote.

When Mr Martin is officially voted in as Taoiseach, he will then make a statement to the house.

The house will adjourn for a few hours to allow Mr Martin to travel to Aras an Uachtarain – the home of Irish President Michael D Higgins.

– Who will be the next Taoiseach?

Fianna Fail leader Mr Martin will be the agreed nominee of the new coalition for the role of taoiseach, with Leo Varadkar taking a role in Cabinet. It is expected he would take a role as an economy or business minister.

– What’s this about a rotating Taoiseach?

As part of a pact between Mr Martin and Mr Varadkar, Mr Martin will take the role of Taoiseach until December 2021 with Mr Varadkar resuming the Taoiseach role for the remainder of the Government term of office.

The Tanaiste (deputy head of Government) will also rotate between parties. While Fianna Fail hold the office of the Taoiseach, the leader of Fine Gael will be the Tanaiste.

Newly-elected Taoiseach Mr Martin will then travel back to Government Buildings to decide a new cabinet.

Who will make up the cabinet?

It is expected that the 15 cabinet roles will be split, with six each going to Fianna Fail and Fine Gael, and three to the Greens, with the leaders of each party nominating their candidates to go for the roles.

Former taoiseach Mr Varadkar will have to demote some of his cabinet colleagues due to the squeeze but finance minister Paschal Donohoe and foreign affairs minister Simon Coveney are likely to stay in place. There is also an onus on Mr Martin to ensure the cabinet has gender balance, so junior European affairs minister Helen McEntee may receive a senior role while Fianna Fail TD Anne Rabbitte may also get a cabinet post.

The three leaders will meet next week to to decide how to divide up government departments and allocate individual portfolios to each party.

– What about the Seanad?

On Saturday the new taoiseach must nominate 11 members of the upper house (Seanad) in order to pass important legislation that is due to expire at the end of the month.

While a Seanad election took place in April, the lack of a government since then has delayed the process, putting pressure on an administration to be formed.

Fianna Fail and Fine Gael can each choose four senators and the Green Party get two. One Independent nominee must be picked and is expected to be from Northern Ireland.

With 11 senators nominated, the Seanad can sit on Monday to deal with outstanding legislation.

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