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Irish Independent
Irish Independent
By Gráinne Ní Aodha, PA

Varadkar promotes two of his TDs as new team of junior ministers unveiled

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar (centre), Tanaiste Micheal Martin (centre left), and Minister for Transport Eamon Ryan (centre right) stand next to the team of junior ministers unveiled as part of the coalition’s Cabinet reshuffle. Picture date: Wednesday December 21, 2022.

The Irish Government has unveiled its team of junior ministers – with changes to the EU brief, the junior housing role, and responsibility for integration.

A Cabinet reshuffle has taken place as part of a coalition deal between Fianna Fail, Fine Gael and the Green Party, which has resulted in Leo Varadkar returning to the office of Taoiseach and Micheal Martin becoming deputy leader in the role of Tanaiste.

Two Fine Gael TDs have been promoted to junior ministers, and two have been dropped: Frank Feighan is no longer drugs minister and Colm Brophy has been dropped as junior foreign affairs minister.

Leo Varadkar has returned to the office of Taoiseach (Brian Lawless/PA)

Kieran O’Donnell, chair of the Oireachtas transport committee, has been prompted to a junior ministry, with responsibility for local government and planning.

Jennifer Carroll MacNeill was also promoted to a junior ministry, with responsibility for financial services, credit unions and insurance.

Sean Fleming, who had held that role, is now junior minister at the Department of Foreign Affairs, holding responsibility for international development and the diaspora.

Peter Burke, former junior housing minister, is the new minister for EU affairs.

Thomas Byrne, the Fianna Fail TD who had held the EU role, has been appointed minister of state for sport and physical education.

Hildegarde Naughton, who was appointed as chief whip on Saturday, is now also a junior minister for public health, well-being and the national drugs strategy.

Patrick O’Donovan, who remains as minister of state for the office of public works, is now also in charge of the Gaeltacht brief.

Among the junior ministers whose brief has not changed are: junior minister for special education and inclusion Josepha Madigan; junior enterprise minister Damien English; junior minister for mental health Mary Butler; and junior disabilities minister Anne Rabbitte.

Dara Calleary, ex-agriculture minister and former Fianna Fail deputy leader, has also retained the junior ministry with responsibility for trade promotion and digital transformation.

Green Party TD Joe O’Brien, who remains as the junior minister for community development and charities, is also taking on the integration role within the Department of Children.

There were no other changes to the junior ministry roles held by Green Party members.

On Saturday, former chief whip Jack Chambers was appointed junior minister for road transport and logistics.

I've only 34 people in my parliamentary party at the moment but it's the most talented that I've ever worked with, and I could probably fill most positions twice or three times overLeo Varadkar

Speaking to reporters after the announcement, Mr Varadkar confirmed Fine Gael Kerry TD Brendan Griffin had turned down the offer of a junior ministry.

“Brendan was offered a junior ministry… Obviously sorry he’s not going to be part of the ministerial team on this occasion.

“But I have a very strong team, as you know, (it) was appointed today.

“And one thing I would say is, it’s one of the hardest jobs in being a party leader having to choose who’s in Cabinet, who holds positions as minister of state, who chairs committees, and so on.

“I’ve only 34 people in my parliamentary party at the moment but it’s the most talented that I’ve ever worked with, and I could probably fill most positions twice or three times over.

“We have to have to make those decisions,” he added.

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