Friday, 28 February 2020
Irish parties agree to form coalition government
Three weeks after the general election that saw the governing Fianna Fáil party suffer its worst result in history, a new coalition government has been agreed to between the Fine Gael and Labour parties. Both parties announced the signing of a formal coalition agreement earlier this morning, with Fine Gael leader Jim Flanagan set to become the new Taoiseach (prime minister) with Labour leader Brendan McMahon as Tánaiste (deputy prime minister).
"We are pleased to announce the signing of an agreement," Flanagan told reporters in Dublin. "We are still working out the finer details, but the policy agendas have been agreed to." The incoming leader said that the new government, which will control a five-seat majority in the Dáil (parliament), will prioritize making housing more affordable, reducing homelessness and fixing the country's healthcare system.
"We are formalizing what is a democratic revolution at the ballot box," Flanagan said, noting the end of Fianna Fáil's 22 year-long rule signaled a "new day" for Ireland. In particular, Flanagan said that the new government would introduce legislation to the Dáil for constitutional referenda that would legalize abortion in the Republic (currently abortion is illegal except in cases where the mother's life is at risk) and end the requirement that couples need to be separated before filing for divorce. Flanagan also said he was looking forward to working with Prime Minister Richard Samuels on issues affecting both nations, including "continuing the two decades of peace in Northern Ireland."
The new parliament, elected on 8 February, is scheduled to convene on Tuesday, 3 March. With the signing of a coalition agreement, it is almost certain that a majority of the 160 Teachta Dála (TDs- members of parliament) will vote to support Flanagan as the new Taoiseach to succeed Brian Martin.