After 70 days Enda Kenny defies odds to form government with ‘Endapendents’
Ireland’s newly elected Taoiseach Enda Kenny achieved a personal ambition last week by becoming the first Fine Gael leader to serve two consecutive terms as leader of the the Irish government.
The new Irish government was formed after 70 days of stop-start negotiation between the two biggest parties, Fine Gael and Fianna Fail, and several Independent TDs, or ‘Endapendents’.
Mr Kenny was elected by 59 votes to 49 after Fianna Fail abstained, having earlier refused to serve in coalition with its traditional Civil War enemy.
Fianna Fail agreed to abstain on the vote for Taoiseach and support Mr. Kenny’s minority government – with the Independents – on a number of designated issues such as suspending and reviewing water bills, tackling Ireland’s housing shortage and the increasing problem of homelessness.
Mr. Kenny, in his acceptance speech, admitted many Irish people had not benefited from the country’s economic turnaround since the election of the last government in 2011.
He said the 32nd Dail would also differ in that the Irish government would be more accountable to it and its TDs than any government before it. It meant no party had a mandate to “instruct, force, direct or coerce” anyone else.
“We therefore must all work together in the best interests of all our people,” said Mr. Kenny.
“If economic survival was the urgent priority of the last government then using a strong economy to improve the lives, the quality of the lives of our people, must and will be the priority of the new government and that fundamental principle will be the bedrock of our policy programme,” said Mr Kenny.
Among the new reforms was the appointment of a Minister for Housing with increased powers, Simon Coveney, who said he requested the enhanced ministerial post. Mr Kenny also promised that Health will be a major priority.
He said his minority government had been formed in “almost unprecedented circumstances” which created room for a new and inclusive democracy.
“Everyone will have the opportunity to play a constructive role as we work in partnership together to build a better Ireland.
“It will be a great test of our democracy, of our character and indeed of this house, a test that I am convinced that we will pass.”
Among the Independent TDs to receive Ministerial portfolios are Katherine Zappone (Children and Youth Affairs), Shane Ross (Transport), Denis Naughten (Communications) and Finian McGrath with responsibility for disability.
The new Fine Gael Ministers are Simon Harris (Health), Mary Mitchell O’Connor (Jobs and Enterprise) and Michael Creed (Agriculture). Leo Varadkar (Social Protection), Simon Coveney (Housing and Planning), Paschal Donohoe (Public Expenditure) and Richard Bruton (Education).
Justice Minister Frances Fitzgerlad stayed in her Justice Minister role but was also made Tánaiste, Michael Noonan retained Finance, Charlie Flanagan stayed in Foreign Affairs and Heather Humphreys in Arts, Cuture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht.