Ireland's shell-shocked leaders are convening for the first time since last weekend's election to plot how to form a new government, a search with no easy answer in a hung parliament.

Senior figures in the two-party government of Prime Minister Enda Kenny say their 5-year-old coalition effectively lost Friday's inconclusive election.

Three ministers sitting at the Cabinet table Tuesday failed to win re-election, but all ministers will remain in office until a new government is formed.

Electoral officials spent a fourth day recounting votes in three constituencies where the validity of ballot papers and accuracy of previous counts is disputed.

With six seats still up for grabs in Ireland's 158-member parliament, Kenny's Fine Gael has won 49 seats, opposition Fianna Fail 44, and Kenny's coalition partner Labour just six.