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Coveney becomes Tánaiste as reshuffled ministers receive their seals at the Áras

Heather Humphreys is the new Minister for Business and Josepha Madigan is Minister for Arts.

Updated at 3pm 

8198 Simon Coveney_90530664 Taoiseach Leo Varadkar, new Minister for Business Heather Humphreys, new Minister for Arts Josepha Madigan, and Simon Coveney, who has been named as Tánaiste. Source: Sam Boal/RollingNews.ie

SIMON COVENEY HAS received his new seal of office from President Micheal D Higgins after being announced in the role before lunchtime today.

The announcement was made in the Dáil by Taoiseach Leo Varadkar shortly after midday.

Heather Humphreys will be the new Minister for Business, replacing Frances Fitzgerald, and Dublin Rathdown TD Josepha Madigan will take over Humphreys’ role as Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht.

The former Tánaiste Frances Fitzgerald resigned on Tuesday following controversy over emails sent to her which indicated she was aware of the aggressive legal strategy the former Garda Commissioner planned to use against whistleblower Maurice McCabe.

Her departure earlier this week averted a pre-Christmas general election, as Fianna Fáil had been planning to table a motion of no confidence on Tuesday night.

“Appointing the Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade, Simon Coveney TD, as Tánaiste will enhance his role in the Brexit negotiations currently underway and will make it easier for him to coordinate the work of other departments with respect of Brexit,” Varadkar said in a statement.

Humphreys’s appointment to the Department of Business, Enterprise and Innovation, meant that for the first time in seven years, the minister would be “from outside the Dublin region, and also from the border,” Varadkar said of the Cavan-Monaghan TD.

This is particularly relevant in the context of Brexit and also the Government’s commitment to bring more jobs and good jobs to all regions of Ireland, especially rural Ireland.
Heather’s experience as a minister and also her background in banking and finance makes her very suited to this role.

Madigan, he said, would help “drive forward the Government’s agenda for arts, culture and heritage, including the Creative Ireland programme, an ambitious ten year capital plan for the arts and multi-annual increases in funding for culture and heritage”.

Varadkar presented his new appointees to the media on the steps of Government Buildings this afternoon, before the four travelled to Áras an Uachtaráin, where the new ministers and the Tánaiste received their seals of office.

90408245_90408245 Josepha Madigan Source: Sam Boal

Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin congratulated the new appointees, but said that no-one “takes joy” in the reason why the Cabinet had to be reshuffled.

He said that the co-ordinated effort by Fine Gael to maintain that nothing wrong had been done over the past week reflected badly on the Taoiseach.

Odds 

A number of names had been suggested as Fitzgerald’s replacement, but Simon Coveney had been widely tipped to succeed her as Tánaiste in recent days.

The Cork TD was appointed Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade with special responsibility for Brexit on 15 June, in Leo Varadkar’s Cabinet reshuffle.

He is also the deputy leader of Fine Gael. He previously served as Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government as well as Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine. He was an MEP between 2004 and 2007.

Coveney ran to be leader of the Fine Gael party earlier this year, but was defeated by Varadkar.

While the odds were in Coveney’s favour earlier this week, speculation had tipped towards Heather Humphreys in the past 24 hours amid calls for the Taoiseach to ensure that there was gender balance within his Cabinet.

Humphreys has been a member of Dáil Eireann since 2011.

- Additional reporting by Christine Bohan and Daragh Brophy 

READ: Man was malnourished and severely dehydrated before death at Áras Attracta>

READ: ‘We are crying out for help’: A father’s letter to the Taoiseach as he battles to keep family home>

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