Nearly five months after the General Election the memberships of Fianna Fáil, Fine Gael and the Green Party have finally given their backing to the Programme for Government. 

It means a new administration can be formed 140 days since the country went to the polls on Saturday 8 February.

Tight election results set the scene for lengthy negotiations between the three parties, but even the politicians involved seem perplexed at prolonged talks. 

Leo Varadkar acknowledged at the time the election results would make forming a Government difficult as soon as the outcome was clear and told the media: "It seems that we have now a three-party system, three parties all getting the same number of votes, roughly the same number of seats and that will make forming a Government quite difficult."

The story of the election was the success of Sinn Féin, the party celebrated its best-ever result, securing 37 seats.

However, the party led by Mary Lou McDonald saw its hopes of entering government dashed after Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael refused to join forces with Sinn Féin.

Smaller parties including Labour and the Social Democrats ruled themselves out of the running for Government early on.

But in a historic agreement in April against the backdrop of the Covid-19 crisis, Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael agreed to leave their fractured past behind. They outlined a number of pledges on areas including health, housing and childcare.

Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin said: "People will have their own perspectives to bring to the table but I do believe it's a document that is certainly worth engaging with."


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Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael have 72 Dail seats between them but need more than 80 or more to form a stable administration.

Attention turned to the Green Party as possible kingmakers and it tentatively agreed to enter into talks but laid out 17 key demands, including a commitment to an average annual reduction of greenhouse gas emissions of at least 7%.

Green Party leader Eamon Ryan said: "We think it can be green, we think Europe is looking in that direction for a European green deal. We think that is where the funding, where the investment where the money is going to be available for us to lift the country out of this incredibly severe recession that we are experiencing. So we hope it is possible for us to get into those talks."

The idea of the Green Party entering Government with Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael wasn't without it's critics.

Independent TD Denis Naughten said the Green Party's target of a 7% reduction in carbon emissions annually was unrealistic.

"If we actually culled every single farm animal in this country, sheep, cattle, horses and pigs we still wouldn't reach the overall target for the five years. So 7 per cent per annum just is not attainable," he said. 

Meanwhile, Independent TD John Halligan voiced his concerns saying: "Fianna Fáil traditionally can't stand Fine Gael, Fine Gael traditionally can't stand Fianna Fáil and both Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael can't stand the Greens, so you're going to have some mismatch of a Government put together."

After weeks of gruelling negotiations at Agriculture House on Dublin's Kildare Street, finally on Monday 15 June a deal on a programme for Government was finalised by Fianna Fáil, Fine Gael and the Green Party. 

But that deal hinged on the support from the membership of each of the parties. 

Today was a defining moment in politics when all three of the parties' membership gave the green light to the deal paving the way for a new coalition Government for possibly the next five years.

Now the parties have formed a new administration and their efforts will turn to rebuilding the economy in the aftermath of the Covid-19 pandemic.