New Taoiseach announced following historic coalition deal

15 June 2020, 15:44

Fianna Fail leader Micheal Martin
Fianna Fail leader Micheál Martin. Picture: PA

By Maddie Goodfellow

Fianna Fail leader Micheál Martin is set to become Ireland's new Taoiseach as the country's two largest political parties strike a deal to enter a shared government for the first time in history.

Mr Martin will share the premiership with current Taoiseach and leader of Fine Gael Leo Varadkar on a rotating basis over the next five years, remaining in power until December 2022.

Mr Varadkar has been caretaker Taoiseach since February 8.

The coalition government will contain the two parties, who have long been bitter rivals, and also the Green Party.

It has been 128 days since a general election proved fruitless in providing a clear leading party, and talks have been ongoing since to find an agreement between the two sides.

Any draft programme for government is yet to be published, however it is believed that it will contain a major stimulus package for the economy following the problems of the coronavirus crisis.

The new coalition is also expected to push for a reduction in carbon emissions and an increase in carbon tax.

It will be presented to the parliamentary parties at 5.30pm on Monday, however the outcome of votes among the wider memberships are not expected to be known until the end of next week.

Fine Gael leader Leo Varadkar
Fine Gael leader Leo Varadkar. Picture: PA

The coalition is a surprising turn of events, with many believing an agreement between the two parties would not be possible.

Both parties have their roots in the Irish Civil War of 1922-23 and have been rivals ever since.

Every government prior to this has been led by one of the two parties.

It also follows Sinn Fein's surge in the February election. Fianna Fail won the most seats in the election with 38 to Sinn Fein’s 37 and Fine Gael’s 35. The Greens won 12.

Speaking outside Government buildings in Dublin on Monday, Mr Martin said: “The major issues have been resolved and obviously we’ll present the programme for Government to our parliamentary parties, that’s important, and then out to the membership for ballot.

“But I think the programme as it’s now formulated does represent a significant new departure in terms of public policy, particularly in relation to housing, health, education and climate change itself, because I think it is important."

“This is an agreement that, from my point of view and certainly from the point of view of the country, is going to be a good one and one that is very much in line with Fine Gael’s values and principles,” Mr Varadkar said as he attended an event in Dublin on Monday morning.