Fianna Fail's Micheal Martin elected as Ireland's PM


Dublin (AFP)

Fianna Fail leader Micheal Martin was elected Saturday as Ireland's new prime minister, replacing Leo Varadkar as the country's Taoiseach during a special sitting of the Dail parliament.

Martin's election follows months of negotiations between his centre right party, Fine Gael and the Green Party, to reach an agreement following elections in February, before the onset of the coronavirus crisis.

"To be elected to serve as Taoiseach of a free republic is one of the greatest honours which anyone can receive," Martin told the parliament.

The 59-year-old will be formally appointed by Ireland's president, Michael D Higgins, and is set to announce his ministers later in the day.

Martin takes over the role of Irish premier from Fine Gael's Varadkar in an historic reconciliation of Ireland's two major political parties which dates back to the foundation of the state a century ago.

Under the agreement, Fine Gael is set to regain the post of Taoiseach at the end of 2022.

The two parties needed the support of the Greens to have a working majority in the Irish parliament, equating to around 80 seats.

The political deal excludes republicans Sinn Fein from power.

The one-time fringe party won the popular vote with 24.5 percent of first preference ballots, becoming the second-largest force in parliament and is expected to become the main opposition party.