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Ceann Comhairle to be confirmed this afternoon; while no decision on Taoiseach expected

Thursday, 10th March, 2016 12:22pm

Ceann Comhairle to be confirmed this afternoon; while no decision on Taoiseach expected

Caoimhghin O Caolain has been nominated for the role of Ceann Comhairle.

The identity of the Ceann Comhairle of the 32nd Dáil should be known around 2pm today but no one is expected to be elected Taoiseach when the vote on nominations is held later this afternoon.

Cavan Monaghan TD Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin is the Sinn Féin nomination for the position of Ceann Comhairle and, addressing members in the Dáil earlier, he urged them for their vote.

For the first time, the 158 deputies from 40 constituencies are making their selection for ceann comhairle by secret ballot, underway now.

Clerk of the Dáil Peter Finnegan told TDs they were free to return to their seat or to leave the chamber once they had voted.

In addition to Deputy Ó Caoláin, four other candidates are contesting for the position - Fine Gael's Andrew Doyle and Bernard Durkan, Fianna Fáil's Seán Ó Fearghaíl and Independent Maureen O'Sullivan.

Last night, Taoiseach Enda Kenny proposed that the incoming Ceann Comhairle will chair a new all-party committee on Dáil reform.

Addressing all TDs this morning, Deputy Ó Caoláin said: "For the first time in our parliamentary democracy, we, the elected members of the Dáil, will decide who among our number will preside over the business of this House, who it is we will entrust to oversee the fair conduct of our deliberations and exchanges in this chamber.

"The position of Ceann Comhairle, and the allied roles of that office, requires experience of parliamentary procedures and a disposition that is respectful of all opinion and the right of all to have their views expressed and heard.

"I believe I have acquired over these past 19 years the required experience and that I have demonstrated that I have the skills and the natural disposition to serve in this important role.

"I have over these past four Dáil terms worked closely with colleagues of all political opinion, party members and independent deputies alike."

Outlining his more specific experience on various technical groups, campaigns and committees, Deputy Ó Caoláin went on to say: "The Ceann Comhairle must, of necessity, be independent of both Government and Opposition. It is my certain view that the Ceann Comhairle is duty bound to uphold the primacy of the individual parliamentarian over and above all considerations of party or groupings. He or she must conduct the business of this House in a fair and impartial manner and adhere to the highest standards of the office.

"Dáil reform has been much commented on of late. It is not within the gift of a Ceann Comhairle to make changes to the conduct of business, already governed by Dáil Standing Orders. However, in his or her capacity as Chair of the Committee on Procedures and Privileges, the Ceann Comhairle can facilitate and encourage real and substantial change.

"As Chair of the Houses of the Oireachtas Commission the Ceann Comhairle can again lead effective change in members’ interests."

He continued: "I am greatly interested in taking on this honoured responsibility. I am humbled by the support of colleagues who have nominated me and I thank them for their encouragement.

"I ask you, each of you, to consider me for your support here this morning. I respectfully request your Number 1 support and if that is not possible then your Number 2 would be greatly appreciated.

"If called upon on the conclusion of today’s ballot I will proudly and solemnly declare that I will duly and faithfully and to the best of my knowledge and ability, execute the office of Ceann Comhairle of Dáil Éireann without fear or favour."

Nominations for Taoiseach

The first business of the new Ceann Comhairle will be to seek nominations for the position of taoiseach.

Fine Gael will nominate Enda Kenny, Fianna Fáil will propose Micheál Martin, Sinn Féin is to nominate Gerry Adams, and the Anti-Austerity-Alliance-People Before Profit will nominate Richard Boyd Barrett.

It is expected that the Dáil will be adjourned to a later date which will allow for further negotiations on the formation of a government.

Minister Heather Humphreys, Cavan-Monaghan TD, said that the onus is on Fine Gael to form the next government and  "get on with the business of running the country".

She said the party would talk to Fianna Fáil about possible coalition in the best interests of the country.

Ms Humphreys said that "at the end of the day we are all going to have to come together and do what's right" in the interests of the country.

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