The Government Chief Whip has said he wants to reach out to his colleagues across the political divide and have a discussion about proportionality in the Dáil.

Speaking on RTÉ’s News At One, Joe McHugh said that new Taoiseach Leo Varadkar has an appetite to "try and do things differently".

Asked about proposals to change speaking time in the Dáil, Mr McHugh said he wanted to meet with colleagues next Tuesday and see if the conversation can be moved forward.

However, he said that he did not want to put a timetable on these talks.

During his first speech to the Dáil as Taoiseach, Mr Varadkar noted that of the 57 TDs who voted for him, only two were allowed speak during the debate. He added that 40 members abstained, but only one was given the opportunity to explain why.

Multiple TDs who voted against Mr Varadkar’s election were afforded the opportunity to speak.

Mr McHugh said the Dáil is where the Government is held to account and it is important that everyone’s voice is heard, but proportionality has to be looked at.

The Chief Whip added that an honest conversation also has to be had about what has worked, and what has not, over the past year.

"We still have to have a very, very honest conversation within the Dáil and within the different Dáil groupings as to what has worked in the last year and what hasn't.

"One area the Taoiseach is very interested in is the area of proportionality and I've started that conversation this morning.

"I've had a number of meetings and want to reach out to my colleagues about the divide."

He added that the Dáil has been criticised for its productivity but there are very dedicated TDs across the board who want to see progress.



Meanwhile the new Minister for Housing Eoghan Murphy said that tackling homelessness and housing is a priority for him and the Government. 

He said that he had met with officials from the housing department this morning, and also spoke to the former housing minister Simon Coveney about his new portfolio. 

Yesterday, Mr Varadkar appointed Mr Coveney as Minister for Foreign Affairs. 

Today, Mr Varadkar spoke to French President Emmanuel Macron, British Prime Minister Theresa May and and German Chancellor Angela Merkel. 

In a statement, Mr Varadkar said that both he and Mr Macron spoke about Brexit and working together to advance the EU reform agenda.

The Taoiseach and Mrs Merkel discussed Brexit and the Northern Ireland talks. They also spoke about a "renewed closeness of relations between Germany and France being a positive force for the future of the EU."

Both leaders agreed to meet in Brussels next week for "substantive discussions".

Mr Varadkar and Mrs May "reiterated the shared objectives of avoiding a hard  border, maintaining the common travel area and supporting the Good Friday Agreement."

As well as discussing Brexit, the two leaders also spoke about the ongoing political discussions in London and Belfast, and agreed on the need "to have the Northern Ireland Executive up and running as soon as possible".