As Kensington Palace reveals where the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge will head to during their three day official visit to the Republic of Ireland next week, one question remains. With the royal visitors expected to meet leading politicians during their stay, who will be the Taoiseach that welcomes William and Kate to Dublin?
The Cambridges are due to touch down in the Irish capital on March 3rd 2020 but although their arrival is just days away, a closely fought general election and a result described by one party as a ‘something of a revolution in the ballot box’ means that the country’s Prime Minister at the time of the trip remains unknown.
When voters in the Republic of Ireland headed to the polls in on February 8th, they changed the political landscape of the country. For decades, the centrist parties Fianna Fail and Fine Gael had dominated. But they have now been joined as main players by Sinn Fein which took 37 seats compared to 38 for Fianna Fail and 35 for Fine Gael. Negotiations to form a government have been ongoing ever since but have still to reach a successful conclusion.
Mary Lou McDonald, Sinn Fein’s leader in the Republic of Ireland, described the new political make up as a ‘revolution’. Her party gained the most first preference votes in the electione whil Mary Lou McDonald also received the most votes in a ballot in the Irish Parliament to be the next Taoiseach but was still short of the number needed to secure the post. Meanwhile, Fianna Fail and Fine Gael have held exploratory talks over the possibility of forming a government.
With just days to go until the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge arrive in Dublin, the chances of a new administration being in place seem slim. Fine Gael’s Leo Varadkar handed in his resignation as Taoiseach following the result but will remain as caretaker Prime Minister until a new government is formed.