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Christina Finn/The Journal

LIVE: Simon Harris makes changes to junior ministerial ranks in first Cabinet meeting

The new Taoiseach has been finalising the positions this morning.


NEW TAOISEACH SIMON Harris has reshuffled the junior ministerial pack during his first Cabinet meeting at Government Buildings.

Harris formally became Taoiseach yesterday after a vote was passed in the Dáil by 88 votes to 69.

Hours after being appointed, he made several changes to a number of senior Cabinet positions and has been today filling the remaining vacancies for the three Minister of State, or junior ministerial, positions.

Emer Higgins, Alan Dillon, and Kieran O’Donnell have filled the three positions, while other switches have been made throughout the morning, with Neale Richmond moving to the Department of Finance.

Changes so far...

Yesterday saw Limerick TD Patrick O’Donovan being appointed to Simon Harris’ former role of Minister for Further Education.

Peter Burke was also appointed as Minister for Enterprise, a position which was recently vacated by Simon Coveney.

Hildegarde Naughton was also tasked with taking on the role of Minister of State for Special Education, after this role was left vacant when Josepha Madigan announced last month she was resigning from the position and would not contest the next election.

Remaining in place

Harris has kept some continuity however regarding the ministerial positions held by his party of Fine Gael.

Helen McEntee retained her position as Justice Minister after much speculation on her role, as Harris set out an ambition to refocus his party on “law and order”.

Minister for Public Expenditure Paschal Donohoe and Minister for Social Protection Heather Humphreys also held on to their positions.

Junior ministerial changes

Some movement this morning has been confirmed.

Neale Richmond is to leave his role as junior minister at the Department of Enterprise to become junior minister at the Department of Finance.

This role within the Department of Finance was vacated by Jennifer Carrol MacNeill (who is now junior minister with special responsibility for EU Affairs).

Meanwhile, Emer Higgins will fill the role Richmond has vacated and become junior minister at the Department of Enterprise.

Further changes

Limerick TD Kieran O’Donnell has been appointed Minister of State with responsibility for Office of Public Works.

He takes the role that was left vacant by fellow Limerick TD Patrick O’Donovan, who was last night appointed to Harris’ former role of Minister for Further Education.

Housing Department

There’s changes within the Department of Housing too, with Alan Dillon becoming Minister of State in the Department. 

Department of Health

It’s also been confirmed that Colm Burke will become Minister of State with responsibility for Public Health, Wellbeing and the National Drugs Strategy.

Jennifer Carroll MacNeill was appointed yesterday as Minister of State for EU affairs and defence.

Speaking on Newstalk this morning, the junior minister said it is a “very serious time in Europe”, referencing the wars in Gaza and Ukraine.

MacNeill said there is a “pan-European conversation” ongoing about how to coordinate defence spending and operations and that Ireland will need to “lean in a little further” to other EU countries.

“We are part of a Nordic-Baltic group of friendly countries and it is certainly the case that Poland, Latvia, Lithuania, Estonia Finland are very, very seriously concerned,” she said, adding that Ireland should be “reflecting on what our European neighbours are saying”.

Mayo TD Michael Ring has said that he turned down an offer to be a junior minister, saying he has not yet made up his mind on whether he will run again in the next election.

He made the comments in an interview on Midwest Radio.

Our Political Editor Christina Finn is at Leinster House, where Simon Harris, Micheál Martin and Eamon Ryan have lined up on the steps with the full team of junior ministers:

With all the roles now accounted for, we’ll wrap up this liveblog. Thanks for following along.

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