The first session of the new Dáil is due to begin at 12pm, with the outgoing Government returning to the seats to the left of the Ceann Comhairle’s chair (the right as seen on television). This will mean that Fine Gael and Labour will start the day in the same opposition benches they have occupied since 1997.
As the outgoing Taoiseach and Tánaiste were not elected to the new Dáil the most senior outgoing Minister, Brian Lenihan, is expected to sit in the Taoiseach’s seat. Enda Kenny will be in the seat he has occupied as Leader of the Opposition.
The first item of business will be the reading by the Clerk of the Dáil, Kieran Coughlan, of the proclamation convening the Dáil and the names and constituencies of each member elected to it.
As there will be no Ceann Comhairle Mr Coughlan will then invite nominations for the position. Fine Gael and Labour will almost certainly have their own single nominee while other parties also have the right to propose their own deputy to the post.
If there is more than one nomination there will be a vote, which will take around 20 minutes to complete. As the TDs have not yet been assigned seats this vote will not be done electronically; instead all TDs will file through the ‘division lobbies’ to vote either ‘Tá’ or ‘Níl’ on each nominee.
If there is only one nominee they will be automatically elected to the position.
Once a Ceann Comhairle is elected, he or she makes a short address to the House, takes an oath of office and then takes the chair. The new Ceann Comhairle’s first task will be to invite nominations for Taoiseach.
Voting on a new Taoiseach
Again Fine Gael and Labour are almost certain to nominate one person between them, namely Enda Kenny. Other parties are also entitled to propose nominees and Sinn Féin at least are expected to use that entitlement this time.
However even if there is only one nominee there will be a vote to appoint them and in theory every member of the House is entitled to speak on the nomination of the Taoiseach.
Following this there will be a vote held using the same ‘lobby’ system as was used with the Ceann Comhairle vote.
Usually the procedure would be for the first vote to be on the nomination of the outgoing Taoiseach, though as Brian Cowen is no longer a TD this will obviously not apply tomorrow. Instead votes will be held on each nominee in the order in which they are proposed.
Once the Taoiseach is elected the House is adjourned for a minimum of two hours to allow him or her to go to the Áras an Uachtaráin to be formally appointed by the President.
While all of this procedure is part of Dáil tradition one new aspect of tomorrow’s session will see cameras inside Leinster House for the first time. This will be to record the new Taoiseach coming down the staircase outside the Dáil Chamber on their way to the Phoenix Park.
There will also be a scaffold erected beside the Leinster House plinth to allow cameras to get a clear shot of the new Taoiseach getting into their car, which will be removed once the Taoiseach has left.
Appointing a Cabinet
Once the new Taoiseach returns the Dáil will resume with the Taoiseach ceremonially leading his or her Cabinet, in order of precedence, into the Chamber. From this point the Government and opposition TDs will be on the correct side of the Dáil.
The names and portfolios of the Cabinet will be announced to the House and there will then be a debate followed by a vote to ratify the various appointments. After this the Dáil will be adjourned and the new Ministers will go to the Áras an Uachtaráin to collect their seals of office.
Thanks to Rte for the information.