Belfast Telegraph

Ministers bow out in Dail drama

Finance minister Brian Lenihan will briefly assume the role of Taoiseach on Wednesday as the top remaining member of a decimated government in its last moments of power.

Flanked by just two other ministers - the only other survivors from a 15-strong Cabinet emphatically overthrown by voters - the trio will doubtless cut lonely figures on the front bench.

And for more than an hour, Mr Lenihan in the Taoiseach's chair, Eamon O'Cuiv and Brendan Smith will be forced to endure their humiliating eviction to the opposition benches.

The vastly shrunken ranks of Fianna Fail will also take up what is left of their old seats on the ruling side of the utterly transformed house they had dominated for the last 14 years.

At around midday, the clerk of the Dail, Kieran Coughlan, will call the 31st Dail to order and read out the name and constituency of each new member.

Nominations for the Ceann Comhairle will then be taken and, once elected, the new house speaker will address TDs before taking an oath of impartiality and taking the chair.

Parties will then be asked to nominate a Taoiseach - a formality this time around which will see Fine Gael leader Enda Kenny elected by the massive majority of his coalition deal with Labour.

The Dail usually takes a two-hour break at this stage, during which Mr Kenny will travel to Aras an Uachtarain to be officially sworn into the highest office in the country.

The drama will continue on the resumption as the new Taoiseach walks back into the chamber, followed in order of seniority by his newly-appointed Cabinet, to seize control of the government benches.

Such is the scale of the Fine Gael/Labour partnership - referred to by Labour as a national government - that their combined 113 seats will sweep around more than two thirds of the familiar U-shape of the house.

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