It's not quite on the same scale as the infamous phrase "campaign in poetry, govern in prose". But, now the theatrics of government formation have received their standing ovation and are exiting stage left, it is time for the far more mundane realities of life in power to step into the spotlight.

After an at times agonising 139 day wait for a government to be formed in response to the Saturday 8 February General Election, on Friday evening Fine Gael, Fianna Fáil and the Greens revealed their party members had backed entering into a coalition.

The decision - supported by an 80-20% split for Fine Gael, 74-26% for Fianna Fáil and 76-24% for the Greens - means Micheál Martin will now achieve his political lifetime ambition and become the first Cork taoiseach since Jack Lynch in 1979, while avoiding being the first Fianna Fáil leader to never become taoiseach in the process.

The mixture of dream come true and relief is now a certainty for Mr Martin, who appeared in calm and relaxed mood on RTÉ's Six One News on Friday evening in sharp contrast to the tension framing the situation in recent weeks.

But, now he has scrambled to the pinnacle of Irish politics, his imminent coalition of old long-term enemies and new unlikely friends must get back to the basics of parliamentary democracy.

The government formation drama was a nice distraction.

Now it is time for Dáil votes, ministerial seat decisions, subtle unspoken deals, Seanad appointments and the programme for government promises to take their turn in the spotlight.


Electing a taoiseach on Saturday

Did we say the theatrics were now over? Well, we meant "almost".

On Saturday morning, the 160 TDs of the 33rd Dáil will meet at the National Convention Centre on Dublin City's docklands to vote in Mr Martin as taoiseach.

The meeting, which is taking place away from Leinster House to ensure Covid-19 physical distancing, is a formal and essential first step in any new government, with a series of key hurdles taking place during much of the day's pageantry.

Just after 10.30am on Saturday morning, Mr Martin will be nominated by his party as taoiseach, in the full knowledge the combined force of Fianna Fáil (37 TDs), Fine Gael (35) and the Greens (12) will provide 84 votes, four more than the majority required.

Sinn Féin is likely to also nominate its leader Mary Lou McDonald to copper fasten the party's new role as main opposition voice, but barring a turnaround of unheard of proportions is aware it will be a nomination for image more than substance reasons.

Once elected taoiseach, Mr Martin will give his maiden speech as head of the new government, with a now collegial Leo Varadkar by his side.

The Dáil will then be suspended for a number of hours to allow the Fianna Fáil leader to travel to Áras an Uachtaráin to be sworn in by President Michael D Higgins - a constitutional technicality which formalises his elevation to taoiseach.


Choosing a cabinet

It is then that the bruising realities of political power will begin to take hold.

With any new government comes a new cabinet, and when there are three parties all keen to keep their friends close and enemies closer, it will be quite a squeeze to get in the door.

While technically Mr Martin will make the decision himself, the new coalition's make-up will see the new taoiseach, presumptive new tánaiste Leo Varadkar and Greens leader Eamon Ryan carve up the 15 cabinet seats between their parties in a six-six-three Fianna Fáil-Fine Gael-Green Party split.

In addition, each party will also be given one "super" junior minister position, which will allow an individual to sit at cabinet without full ministerial rights.

It's straight forward in theory, and all three leaders are likely to have already decided on which names will go into what portfolios. But publicly saying so is a different matter.

Throughout mid-afternoon on Saturday, Mr Martin will inform individual TDs of the good or bad news - not every portfolio is the blessing it may at first seem, after all - on who is in his new cabinet, a process which is fraught with political danger if not handled carefully.

It is expected Fine Gael's six cabinet seats will include roles for Leo Varadkar (tánaiste and a business or economics position), Simon Coveney (foreign affairs), Paschal Donohoe (finance) and Heather Humphreys (business or another role).

In addition, at least one of Helen McEntee and Hildegarde Naughton - the latter of whom just happens to be a Galway West rival to Mr Martin's main party detractor Éamon Ó Cuív - is also likely to be promoted.

But this means current ministers Simon Harris (health), Charlie Flanagan (justice) and Eoghan Murphy (housing) among others are fighting to remain in key roles.

The Green's three ministerial positions are more straightforward, with leader Eamon Ryan expected to take up the key climate change and transport role, Catherine Martin, set for a senior ministerial position and one other TD certain to enter cabinet.

But just like in Fine Gael, within Fianna Fáil tough decisions will have to be made.

Michael McGrath is widely predicted to be given public expenditure and Anne Rabbitte potentially the children's portfolio, with Barry Cowen, Jim O'Callaghan, Stephen Donnelly, Thomas Byrne, Jack Chambers and others also tipped for contention.

As previous governments have shown, keeping everyone happy - or at least not vengeful - is more difficult than it seems, even with the prospect of the new government having a gargantuan 20 minister of state roles for the runners-up.

But, provided this is achieved, the new ministers will walk into the National Convention Centre's makeshift Dáil chamber to be voted into office by parliament at approximately 6pm.

After the formalities take place, when the Dáil adjourns before 9pm they will then travel by individual car rather than the usual combined bus to Dublin Castle - again due to Covid-19 physical distancing restrictions - to be given their seals of office by President Higgins.

And, with that, a new government will be formed.


First cabinet meeting

Peace might come dropping slow - a full century in some warring parties cases - but, as the new appointments to cabinet will learn, responsibility comes hurtling to the ground like a lead balloon.

In other words, quickly.

Immediately after being sworn in by President Michael D Higgins and posing for the now prerequisite made-for-social-media photographs with their seals of office, the 15 new cabinet members and three super junior ministers will face the reality of the job at hand.

Even before Covid-19 Ireland's economy was beginning to dip, and with the impact of the pandemic that dip has led to fears of a long recession and slow resulting climb back to economic recovery.

The issue is likely to frame the new government's first years in office, provided it gets that far, with Irish Fiscal Advisory Council chair Sebastian Barnes stating a number of times in recent weeks it is one matter to promise a policy and quite another to pay for it.

The still unresolved housing crisis, the health crisis and surging over-spend in part due to Covid-19, questions over how to return the country to full normality and other unavoidably crucial "normal" government matters will take centre stage during this meeting.

And while the first cabinet discussion will largely be about getting the new ministers used to their new surroundings and roles, after four and a half months of waiting for a government to be formed the country will be in no mood to give politicians breathing space to adapt.

That is an issue officials and civil servants will be quick to point out even as the metaphorical champagne bottles are being opened by the latest group of TDs being given the keys to power.


Independent deals

One issue worth keeping an eye on during Saturday's taoiseach nomination vote and the votes to agree to the new cabinet will be what the Independent TDs currently lying in opposition do next.

As initially reported on RTÉ's Drivetime on Friday and later confirmed by a number of Independent TDs to RTÉ News Online, Micheál Martin was in personal contact with almost all Independents on Friday to check in on their voting intentions.

It may be seen as paranoia, and in some ways it is.

But just because you are paranoid doesn't mean they're not out to get you, as an experienced politician like Mr Martin will know all too well. And so having a back-up plan is never a bad idea.

In recent weeks, much has been made of the six TD Rural Independents, the eight TD Regional Independents and the three TD Independents Group potentially being a behind-the-scenes fourth leg of the coalition stool for the new government.

While not formally in power, the concept would involve at least some Independents being encouraged to vote with the government as and when required in return for some improved "access" to ministers if it is needed in the future.

The idea may sound underhand, but it is the reality of parliamentary democracy.

And a devout student of the art of politics like Mr Martin will be acutely aware part of that reality means having a cushion to fall back on if things go wrong.

With some Greens TDs known to be unhappy with the coalition deal, and one or two boisterous Fianna Fáil TDs not exactly exchanging annual Christmas cards with Mr Martin, the new taoiseach will want to avoid getting his term in office off to a bad start.

Being symbolically forced to limp over the line with a slimmer than expected majority due to one or two TDs choosing to abstain or worse would be exactly the kind of bad start he does not want.

So he has contacted Independents to ask them if they may vote with government, at least this one time. A sign, perhaps, of things to come.


Seanad appointments

It has been calmed by the yes vote announcements of Fine Gael, Fianna Fáil and the Greens on Friday evening, but there is another pressure-filled matter the new taoiseach and his colleagues will have to attend to, most likely on Saturday but certainly before the weekend is out.

Under constitutional rules, the 60 seat Seanad includes 11 taoiseach nominee appointments. Appointments which, due to the lengthy government formation talks, have yet to be made.

Once elected, the incoming taoiseach is normally tasked with contacting suitable individuals to take up the roles, whether from his political support base, from civic life or from other areas.

In single party majority governments of the now distant past, this was rarely an issue, with fallen party comrades usually helped into the upper house and given time to recover before a fresh attempt was made at entering Dáil Eireann.

But, as everyone in politics will by now be all too aware, times change.

And the reality of a shared three-party coalition means in addition to Mr Martin, both Mr Varadkar and Mr Ryan will also have a say in who is nominated to the Seanad, with the 11 positions split four-four-two between the leaders, with one Independent also to be elected on agreement between the leaders.

Once this process - which will also include a near 50-50 male-female nominations split - concludes, the Seanad will be legally free to renew the Offences Against the State Act and other anti-gangland and anti-crime legislation when it meets on Monday.

These key laws must be renewed by both Houses of the Oireachtas, with a number of senators taking a high court case in recent days arguing anything other than the creation of a full Seanad would make any renewal potentially unconstitutional - a legal headache no one, least of all a new government, wants.

Given these laws will run out at midnight on Monday if action is not taken, there will be little time to waste in resolving the matter.

No pressure, then, as the new government, taoiseach and ministers take up their roles over the coming hours.