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Mobilising ‘real power of State’ shifts immovable obstacles – Varadkar
Cabinet appointees

19 Dec 2022 / ireland Print

‘Real power of State shifts immovable obstacles'

Barrister Rossa Fanning SC has been named as Attorney General by incoming Taoiseach Leo Varadkar, who was appointed by President Michael D Higgins on Friday (16 December).

Minister Simon Harris will take on the Justice portfolio, as well as continuing in the Department of Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science. Minister Helen McEntee is currently on maternity leave, but will return as Minister for Justice following her confinement. 

Incoming Taoiseach Leo Varadkar said that, in the five years since he first took office, he had learned what was possible when the real power of the State and the true capacity of Government was mobilised.

Challenges blueprint

Things that had seemed impossible were achieved in a short amount of time as immovable obstacles were removed, he added, and this offers a blueprint for overcoming great challenges.

He called this a “direction of travel, perhaps even a vision, for this State in the 21st century”.

Various matters such as climate-change, the war in Ukraine, housing, the cost of living, child poverty, and threats to the economy, must be treated as national emergencies deploying “the full resources of the State, the full machinery of Government, to make an immediate and real difference”, he said.

“Today the hopes and dreams of our nation depend on us fixing the problems we face. To do so, we need to go all out. To be radical or redundant,” he added.

Cabinet appointments

The incoming Taoiseach said that he is appointing the following deputies to Cabinet:

  • Micheál Martin (Tánaiste, and the Departments of Foreign Affairs and Defence),
  • Eamon Ryan (Department of Environment, Climate, Communications and Transport),
  • Simon Coveney (Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment),
  • Stephen Donnelly (Department of Health), 
  • Paschal Donohoe (Department of Public Expenditure, NDP Delivery and Reform),
  • Norma Foley (Department of Education),
  • Simon Harris (Department of Justice, and Department of Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science) 
  • Heather Humphreys (Department of Social Protection, Rural and Community Development),
  • Charlie McConalogue (Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine),
  • Michael McGrath (Department of Finance),
  • Catherine Martin (Department of Tourism, Culture, Arts, Gaeltacht, Sport and Media),
  • Darragh O’Brien (Department of Housing, Local Government and Heritage),
  • Roderic O’Gorman (Department of Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth),
  • Hildergarde Naughton (Minister of State in the Department of the Taoiseach) will be Government Chief Whip.

Ministers of State are as follows:

  • Jack Chambers (Minister for International and Road Transport and Logistics at the Department of Transport, as well as Minister for Postal Policy at the Department of the Environment, Climate and Communications), and
  • Senator Pippa Hackett (Minister for Land Use and BioDiversity at the Department of Agriculture).

Other changes

The Tánaiste will chair the Cabinet Sub-Committee on Economic Recovery and Investment, and may attend meetings of the British-Irish Council.

The Department of Public Expenditure and Reform is being renamed the Department of Public Expenditure, NDP Delivery and Reform.

“I am doing so for a particular purpose” an Taoiseach said. “Too many important public capital projects are taking far too long. Schools, hospitals, garda stations, public transport projects, among others. I want this department to bring about a step change when it comes to the execution and delivery of the National Development Plan – Project Ireland 2040,” he said.

‘Pressing challenge’

Housing is a pressing challenge, and the Government “must do whatever it takes it solve this social crisis and reverse the trend of rising homelessness and falling homeownership,” he added. 

“We need to clear bottlenecks and turn the tens of thousands of unactivated planning permissions into new homes.

“We need to dramatically reduce dereliction and bring down rents in real terms,” he said.

Taming inflation and bringing the cost of living under control is another urgent priority, he added.

Eliminating child poverty and giving every child the best start in life, as well as harnessing renewable energy resources are also on the agenda, as are safer communities and more balanced regional development – with a town- and village-first approach.

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