Left-wing republican Sinn Fein leader Mary Lou McDonald has won the most votes in the election to become Ireland's next prime minister as the new Irish parliament met, but with 45 votes, she still fell far short of the 80 required.
The political impasse since the February 8 election looks set to continue as the leaders of ruling centre-right Fine Gael, Leo Varadkar, and opposition centre-right Fianna Fail, Micheal Martin, also failed.
Varadkar got 36 votes and Martin received 41 votes.
The outgoing prime minister, or taoiseach, Varadkar, said he would be offering his resignation to the president, but that he would continue in a caretaker capacity.
Eamon Ryan, the leader of the Green Party which won 12 seats in the general election, was also nominated, but failed to be elected.
Sinn Fein broke the two-party mould of Irish politics in the election, when a surge in support left the traditionally dominant centre-right parties Fine Gael and Fianna Fail without enough seats for a majority government.
Efforts to form a government have remained deadlocked after both main parties ruled out any coalition with Sinn Fein, whose aims include a united Ireland.
Although Sinn Fein got the highest percentage of the popular vote, it did not field enough candidates to gain more than 37 seats in the 160-seat Dail, the lower house of parliament.
Fianna Fail won 38 seats and Fine Gael 35 seats. Fianna Fail's Martin appointed a steering group on Wednesday for talks with other parties and independent lawmakers "to develop agreed policy action to deal with the range of crises facing the country."
Sinn Fein has discussed possible government formation with smaller parties and independent lawmakers.
Australian Associated Press