Belfast Telegraph

Ministers bow out in Dail drama

Finance Minister Brian Lenihan has briefly assumed the role of Taoiseach, as the top remaining member of a defeated 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 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 are being forced to endure their humiliating eviction to the opposition benches.

The vastly shrunken ranks of Fianna Fail also took up what is left of their old seats in the utterly transformed house they had dominated for the last 14 years.

Dail proceedings began with a roll call by the Clerk Kieran Coughlan, who read out the name of each TD.

Fine Gael TD Sean Barrett has been formally elected as Ceann Comhairle of the 31st Dail and was invited to take the Chair of the House to applause.

Fine Gael leader Enda Kenny proposed Mr Barrett as Ceann Comhairle, saying he has an intimate and deep understanding of how the House works.

Fianna Fail leader Micheal Martin, speaking from the Government benches with a shrunken number of TDs, supported Mr Barrett's nomination, saying he was viewed as a committed and fair parliamentarian. Labour leader Mr Gilmore also supported the nomination.

Mr Barrett said the 31st Dail would be one of the most important since the foundation of the state.

"Our task now is to ensure that we live up to the confidence the people have placed in us and in this parliament," he said.

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