MICHEAL Martin has become Ireland’s new prime minister at a special meeting of the Irish parliament.
The 59-year-old Fianna Fail leader will be at the forefront of a historic three-party coalition consisting of his own party, Fine Gael and the Green Party.
It is the first time that the former Civil War rivals have governed together.
Martin will lead the country for about two and a half years, before handing the role back over to Fine Gael leader Leo Varadkar.
People in Ireland went to the polls in a February general election, but no party came close to winning a majority – and since then talks to figure out the way forward were put on pause due to the pandemic.
READ MORE: Ireland: Micheal Martin to become Taoiseach as parties back deal
Sinn Fein, who achieved the most votes in the election, has accused Fine Gael and Fianna Fail of using the Greens as a “fig leaf” to disguise their denial of the electorate’s call for change.
But the Fianna Fail, Fine Gael and Green Party leaders and negotiating teams reached an agreement on a coalition deal this month.
First Minister Nicola Sturgeon tweeted her congratulations to Martin, saying she looks forward to working with him to “further strengthen the relationship between Scotland and Ireland”.
Back in 2016 Martin said that while the future of Scotland within the UK is a matter for the Scottish people, Ireland should support the nation in a bid to re-enter the European Union if such a situation arises.
Days after the UK voted to leave the EU – with Scotland voting by 62% to Remain – the Fianna Fail leader said in the Irish parliament: “I and my party believe that it would be unacceptable for Scotland to be treated as a normal candidate country should it seek to remain as a member of the EU.
“It currently implements all EU laws. It manifestly would not need to be reviewed for its standards of governance and ability to implement EU laws.
“It has a strong administration, a distinct legal system and an absolute commitment to European ideals.
“Scotland is strong enough to advocate for itself, but Ireland should be its friend and demand fair play should it seek to remain in the EU.”
However on the matter of whether Scotland could veto Brexit, he said “we have to play this straight leaving this to the administrations concerned”.
He added: “Europe must under no circumstance interfere.”
On Twitter this morning former SNP depute leader Angus Robertson referenced Martin’s comments, adding: “Good to know that Scotland has such a strong friend in Ireland’s newly elected Taoiseach.”