PM Leo Varadkar resigns after Irish government enters stalemate

WION Web Team Dublin, Ireland Feb 21, 2020, 12.44 PM(IST)

File photo of Leo Varadkar. Photograph:( Reuters )

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He handed over his resignation to President Michael Higgins after a tempestuous but inconclusive sitting of the Dáil Éireann, which met for the first time since the 8 February election. 

PM Leo Varadkar has resigned after Ireland parliament entered deadlock over the choice of a new premier.

However, he retained his role as the interim leader while the country's three main parties battle out coalition talks after an inconclusive election.

He handed over his resignation to President Michael Higgins after a tempestuous but inconclusive sitting of the Dáil Éireann, which met for the first time since the February 8 election. 

Also read: Sinn Fein surges as most popular party in Irish election

It adjourned until March 5, giving party leaders three weeks to try to form a ruling coalition.

"In accordance with the constitution, the government will continue to carry on their duties until successors have been appointed," a government statement said.

Varadkar, the Sinn Fein leader, Mary Lou McDonald, the Fianna Fail leader, Micheal Martin, and the Green party leader, Eamon Ryan, were nominated by their parties but all, as expected, fell far short of an 80-seat majority in the 160-seat chamber.

McDonald won the most 45 votes, with 84 against and 29 abstentions.

Also read: The end for Varadkar is nigh

Sinn Fein, which once served as the political wing of paramilitary the Irish Republican Army (IRA), became the second biggest party with 37 seats, breaking the historic duopoly of centre-right parties Fine Gael and Fianna Fail.

However, the 33rd dáil ended in a stalemate.

"The onus is on those who have made enormous promises of change to people during this election, who are entrusted with that mandate to bring a programme for government to the Dail for approval," Varadkar said in parliament before departing to resign. 

"If they cannot, they should say so and be upfront and honest about their failure, and the empty promises they made," he added.

Sinn Fein has been historically associated with the IRA which fought British rule in Northern Ireland for decades until the late 1990s when a peace agreement largely ended violence that left more than 3,000 dead on all sides.

It won the popular vote with 24.5 per cent of first preference ballots and picked up 14 seats by attracting voters with a campaign focusing on Ireland's housing shortage and health crisis.