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Neale Richmond, Colm Burke and Emer Higgins are all in the running for new positions Rolling News

Junior Ministerial jobs up for grabs as Cabinet meets under Taoiseach Harris for first time

Cabinet will sign off on the remaining positions today.


TODAY THE NEW Taoiseach Simon Harris will confirm the final additions to his ministerial team by filling the remaining minister of state positions.

Ministers of State, also referred to as junior ministers, are appointed by Cabinet which will sit at midday today.

A number of names that may be in line for promotion have been floating around in recent days, but Harris has remained quiet about his intentions for the final spots. 

Currently three junior minister positions are empty – one in the Department of Housing, one in the Department of Health, and one in the Department of Finance. It is understood that there alot of movement with the junior ministries today.

A Government source has said it is expected that TD Neale Richmond will be moving to the finance vacancy, leaving a vacancy in his current junior ministry in the Department of Enterprise.

Yesterday, TD’s Peter Burke and Patrick O’Donovan were elevated to Minister of Enterprise and Minister for Further and Higher Education respectively. 

Meanwhile, it was also announced that Jennifer Carroll MacNeill will become Minister of State with special responsibility for EU Affairs. 

Government Chief Whip Hildegarde Naughton also saw Special Education added to her brief, meaning that her previous position as Minister of State with responsibility for Public Health, Well Being and the National Drugs Strategy is now vacant. 

All other senior Cabinet positions will remain as they were, with Helen McEntee remaining as Justice Minister despite much speculation over her future in recent weeks.

So what spots are there to be filled and who is likely to fill them? 

As mentioned, there is now a vacancy to be filled for Minister of State with responsibility for Public Health, Well Being and the National Drugs Strategy.

It is widely expected that Cork North Central TD Colm Burke will be elevated to this role given that he is currently Fine Gael’s spokesperson on health and because Harris will want to have Cork represented in his new team given the loss of Simon Coveney.

At the Fine Gael Ard Fheis last weekend, when asked if he wanted to see Cork continue to be represented at the Cabinet table, Simon Coveney quipped that it was more likely to be a junior ministerial position that would house a Cork colleague.

The other two vacancies to be filled are Minister of State with responsibility for Office of Public Works and the Gaeltacht (arising from Patrick O’Donovan’s promotion) and Minister of State at the Department of Finance, with responsibility for Financial Services, Credit Unions and Insurance (arising from Jennifer Carroll MacNeill’s promotion).

For the OPW and Gaeltacht brief, Fine Gael sources say Mayo TD Alan Dillon is most likely to get the gig.

Dillon, chairperson of the Fine Gael parliamentary party, is currently the party’s spokesperson on tourism and sport.

As mentioned, for the vacancy in the Department of Finance, TD Neale Richmond is expected to be moved sideways from his position in the Department of Enterprise into this role. 

That would then leave his junior ministerial position with special responsibility for Business, Employment and Retail up from grabs and it is thought Emer Higgins, the Dublin Midwest TD, may be in line for this position given her background in tech. 

Alternatively, Higgins, who spent a number of years in a senior position at PayPal may take the position in Finance leaving Richmond where he is. 

The Journal will bring you the latest on who ends up where throughout the day. 

Aside from making junior ministerial appointments, Harris is expected to speak with UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak today, as well as First Minister and deputy minister for Northern Ireland. 

Harris will later fly to Brussels, where he is due to meet with EU Commission President Ursula Von der Leyen on Thursday.

With reporting by Christina Finn

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