FORMER Taoiseach Bertie Ahern has said there is “no way” Ireland’s new government will be formed before Easter.
“As of today, a new kind of Dáil will be in Government,” Mr Ahern said after Ireland went to the polls to vote for the country’s 32nd Dáil in the general election on Friday, February 26.
Final counts are taking place, with Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil leading the battle with 47 and 43 seats respectively and 10 remaining seats to be decided.
Mr Ahern, who was in office from 1997 to 2008, added that he felt it was unlikely Fine Gael and his former party Fianna Fáil would work together.
“If it was today, looking at the voting, Kenny would probably be in the stronger position but the negotiations might lead us to Micheál Martin,” he told RTÉ’s Today with Seán O’Rourke.
“If it is Enda Kenny, Fianna Fáil would do a new form of politics but not in coalition with Fine Gael, I just do not see that as of today.”
Taoiseach Enda Kenny has secured his seat in his constituency in Mayo, receiving 13,318 votes and coming out top of the polls in the first count.
First elected in 1975, Mr Kenny remains the longest-serving TD with the unofficial “Father of the Dáil” title.
Tánaiste and Labour leader Joan Burton also kept her seat, receiving 6,445 in the Dublin West constituency, while Sinn Féin leader Gerry Adams was re-elected in Louth.
Minister for Arts, the Heritage and the Gaeltacht Heather Humphreys was beaten into first position in the Cavan-Monaghan constituency by Sinn Féin’s Caoimghín Ó Caoláin but was still re-elected.
Among the casualties was Minister for the Diaspora Jimmy Deenihan.
He was eliminated on the 11th count in Kerry with a total of 9,779 votes – well behind the constituency’s top candidate Independent Michael Healy Rae whose tally ended up at 20,378.
The new Dáil is due to sit on March 10.
As it stands, Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil will need to seek the support of the Independents and smaller parties to support the election of a new Taoiseach.
Should it reach political deadlock – as many are predicting – President Michael D Higgins can request that the outgoing government remain in the Dáil until an agreement is reached and a new government is formed.