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Leo Varadkar spends evening at Snow White panto as ministers await Cabinet reshuffle

Philip RyanIndependent.ie

Incoming Taoiseach Leo Varadkar has spent the evening at the panto – ahead of a crunch meeting with his coalition colleagues to decide on tomorrow’s Cabinet reshuffle.

As ministers eagerly await their fate, the Fine Gael leader was enjoying Snow White and Sammy & Buffy at The National Stadium.

Other well-known faces at the panto included broadcaster Claire Byrne, former rugby star Tommy Bowe and author Kathleen Watkins.

He did so in the knowledge that he will be elected Taoiseach for a second time tomorrow in an agreed power swap with Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin.

He is due back at Government Buildings later tonight to decide on the look of the Cabinet with Mr Martin and Green Party leader Eamon Ryan.

All going according to plan the country will have a new Taoiseach by lunchtime on Saturday afternoon. In a historic first, Fianna Fáil will join forces with Fine Gael and the Green Party to vote Leo Varadkar back into power. The day will involve a quite a bit of pomp and ceremony as Mr Varadkar becomes Taoiseach for the second time in his career. Once that’s done the difficult job of reshuffling the Cabinet begins.

Here we look at how the day will transpire.

What are the key times?

Taoiseach Micheál Martin will travel to Áras an Uachtaráin for 9.30am on Saturday morning where he will officially hand in his resignation to President Michael D Higgins. This will effectively dissolve the government.

Mr Martin will then return to Leinster House and inform the Dáil at 10.30am that he has resigned as Taoiseach.

Shortly afterwards, Fine Gael’s youngest TD Emer Higgins and party chair Richard Bruton will nominate Leo Varadkar for Taoiseach and series of contributions will be made by TDs from all sides of the house.

Sinn Féin had been considering proposing Mary Lou McDonald for the position of Taoiseach in Saturday’s vote despite not having the numbers to win, but last night a spokesperson said the party had decided against this.

“Nothing will change until we have a change of government. Arising from tomorrow’s Dáil proceedings, there will be no change in policy and no change in the ability of this government to deal properly with the issues we are facing. We need a general election, not a rotation in the office of Taoiseach from Fianna Fáil to Fine Gael,” the spokesperson said.

A vote will eventually be held close to 1pm and TDs could be asked to vote by roll call or walk through.

It’s a majority coalition government so there is no suggestion Mr Varadkar will not be appointed bar a massive last minute revolt amongst Government TDs.

Once elected Taoiseach, Mr Varadkar will make his way through Leinster House to the Kildare Street exit where he will be whisked away by his Garda driver to Áras an Uachtaráin for around 1.30pm. President Higgins will formally give Mr Varadkar his seal of office and the Fine Gael leader will officially begin his second term as Taoiseach.

Reshuffle

The new Taoiseach and Tánaiste will begin the process of appointing the Cabinet when Mr Varadkar returns to Government Buildings after his visit to the Phoenix Park. Ministers will be called one by one to their respective leaders’ office to be told if they are staying or going. Around four hours have been allowed for this with a vote on the new Cabinet scheduled for 5pm in the Dáil. Depending on how the day goes or what fallout transpires from the reshuffle this time might change significantly.

Nonetheless, the President is expecting the new cabinet to return to the Áras for around 8pm where he will sign the warrant of appointment of the Government and the Attorney General. The new Taoiseach will countersign the warrant and the new Cabinet will receive their seals of office. The Government’s first Cabinet meeting will then be held in Aras once everyone gets their seal and they pose for the official photograph of the new Government. The meeting is scheduled for 9pm but this is also subject to change and the Cabinet could well still be sitting until after 11pm on Saturday.

The process of appointing ministers of State won’t begin until next week and the Cabinet will have to meet again to sign off on appointments.


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