Sean O Fearghail has been re-elected as speaker of the lower house of the parliament of Ireland, lower house clerk Peter Finnegan announced here on Thursday.
O Fearghail received 130 votes, while his sole competitor, Denis Naughten, an independent member of the lower house, received 28 votes, said Finnegan, adding that the minimum vote required was 80.
According to Finnegan, all 160 newly elected members of the lower house participated in the secret ballot held on Thursday afternoon. A total of 158 votes were declared valid.
O Fearghail, 59, is a member of Fianna Fail, a political party currently holding the most seats in the lower house. He served as speaker of the lower house between March 2016 and Jan. 14, 2020, when the house was dissolved by Irish President Michael D. Higgins in order to pave the way for general elections held on Feb. 8 this year.
Under Irish law, the chair of the previous lower house of parliament automatically becomes a member of the new house. The lower house is elected for a maximum term of five years.
Late on Thursday, Ireland's parliament was also scheduled to choose a new prime minister. Local observers noted that since no party holds a majority in the lower house, the election of the new premier was likely to be a lengthy process.
Once the new prime minister is elected and approved by the president of Ireland, he or she will be required to form a new government that must win the support of more than half of the members of the lower house.
If the new prime minister fails to form a government, new general elections will be called, local analysts said.