And Ray Bassett, Ireland’s former ambassador to Canada, Jamaica and the Bahamas, tipped Republican hardliners Sinn Fein, led by Mary Lou McDonald, to form the next administration after this one. An historic coalition deal was this evening ratified by members of Mr Varadkar’s Fine Gael party, Mr Martin’s Fianna Fail and those of the Green Party, led by Eamon Ryan, clearly the way for Mr Martin to become leader until 2022, after which Mr Varadkar will get his old job back.
I imagine Leo is somewhat relieved to pass the responsibility to Micheal
Ireland has a new government after the Green Party finally ratified the coalition deal by 76 percent for and 24 percent against.
Earlier Fianna Fáil members, whose leader Mícheál Martin described it as a “moment of opportunity and hope”, backed the deal by 74 percent.
The deal was also endorsed by 80 percent of Fine Gael members earlier this evening.
However, Mr Bassett said Mr Varadkar may have taken a shrewd calculation about the political damage the next couple of years could inflict on Mr Martin.
He told Express.co.uk: “I imagine Leo is somewhat relieved to pass the responsibility to Micheal for the moment but I am sure there will be rivalies ongoing between the two them.”
Leo Varadkar will be relieved to hand the job over, said Ray Bassett
Micheal Martin is poised to become Ireland’s next Taoiseach
He explained he had worked for the coalition Government of 1992-1994, when Fianna Fail’s Albert Reynolds served as Taoiseach and Labour’s Dick Spring was his deputy, or Tanaiste – a period characterised by what Mr Bassett called “huge suspicion and private point scoring”.
He added: “There is a danger that with two big parties in Government, neither is willing to meekly defer to the other so there is always the potential for trouble.
“It will be very interesting to see how the dynamic between the two bigger parties works out.
“There is a long history of antagonism between them.”
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Micheal Martin and Leo Varadkar clash during a televised election debate earlier this year
Mr Bassett said Mr Martin’s appointment would mark “the achievement of a lifelong ambition”.
He said: “I worked closely with him for a number of years and know he is a very humane individual who will perform better than the low expectation that the opinion polls would predict.
“However, his task ahead looks very difficult with the fallout from COVID-19 and the impasse in the Brexit talks.
Mary Lou McDonald is the leader of Sinn Fein
Ray Bassett said Albert Reynolds and Dick Spring did not trust each other
“In addition there will be residual opposition inside all three parties to this historic compromise.”
Meanwhile, waiting in the wings after effectively being frozen out of coalition talks was Sinn Fein, Mr Bassett pointed out.
He said: “Sinn Fein is also going to benefit from its position as undisputed leader of the Opposition to put itself forward as the alternative Government.
Worldwide coronavirus cases
“If there is a deep recession in the Republic in the next few years, then there is every likelihood of a Sinn Fein led administration in Dublin after the next election.”
Ms McDonald herself has predicted she will lead her country one day.
Asked earlier this week by Northern Irish journalist Rodney Edwards whether she thought she would eventually become Taoiseach, Ms McDonald said: “Yes, I do actually, and I don’t say that in a vain way, I’m not trying to pat myself on the back.
Eamon Ryan, leader of the Greens
“I think the time is right now for a woman to lead government here.
“Obviously, we have broken that glass ceiling in the North, and I think similarly it’s time here in the South.
“I don’t say that anybody should assume the role of Taoiseach simply because they’re a woman, that’s not the point I’m making, but I think it’s very important for society in general, but for women and girls in particular, that we prove without any fear of contradiction that women can occupy the most senior roles in public life, I think that matters.”