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Peter Burke and Patrick O'Donovan
team simon

Peter Burke and Patrick O'Donovan have just been named as Cabinet ministers - so who are they?

Helen McEntee, Paschal Donohoe and Heather Humphreys hold onto their briefs in the minor reshuffle.

SIMON HARRIS HAS appointed new members of the Cabinet following his election as Taoiseach in the Dáil today. 

While technically it is a new Cabinet, only a couple of changes have been made.

Helen McEntee will remain justice minister, Paschal Donohoe will stay in public expenditure and Heather Humphreys will hold onto the social protection brief.

Hildegarde Naughton is to remain as Government Chief Whip and as Super Junior Minister at the Department of Health.

There has been much speculation over the last two weeks as who would be moving up the political ladder, with two senior ministerial positions up for grabs – Simon Harris’s Further and Higher Education portfolio and Simon Coveney’s Enterprise portfolio. 

Below is the list of the changes made to ministerial briefs:

Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment

043 Peter Burke TD_90654428 Peter Burke TD

Peter Burke, a TD for Longford-Westmeath, has been appointed Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment.

He takes over the role from Coveney, who stepped down last week.

Burke has previously served as Minister of State for European Affairs, the Department of Defence and the Department of Housing respectively.

The long-time ally of outgoing Taoiseach Leo Varadkar has been vocal in the media, particularly in his condemnation of Sinn Féin policies.

Before being elected in 2016, he worked as an accountant in his hometown of Mullingar for a decade.

Department of Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science

patrick-odonovan-minister-of-state-with-responsibility-for-the-office-of-public-works-speaks-during-a-press-conference-inside-dublin-zoo-on-wednesday-16-june-2021-in-dublin-ireland-photo-by-a Patrick O'Donovan TD

Patrick O’Donovan, who was Minister of State with responsibility for the Office of Public Works, has been given the Higher Education brief, Harris’s old Department.

O’Donovan is a TD for Limerick, where there hasn’t been a minister in seven years.

He sat on Limerick County Council for eight years before becoming a TD in 2011.

He’s previously been minister of state for a number of departments including transport, public expenditure and finance.

Minister of State for European Affairs

Jennifer Carroll MacNeill, previously the Minister of State for the Department of Finance, has taken on the European Affairs brief.

The Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown TD has previously spoken out about the harassment she faces as a female TD, and her desire to get more women into politics.

She is a first-term TD but she has history with the party, previously working as a legal adviser to Enda Kenny.

Who’s staying put?

After some speculation, Helen McEntee will be hanging on to the justice brief.

Her time in the role has been mired with crises from garda retention issues to tensions around migration that culminated in the Dublin riots.

McEntee, who is the same age as Harris – 37 – didn’t try to step into Varadkar’s shoes.

Paschal Donohoe remained  tight-lipped about his reshuffle aspirations

“I’m not going to be saying anything that’s going to make his job even more difficult,” he said last week.

There were suspicions that he would contest the party leadership, but the Public Expenditure Minister quickly ruled himself out and endorsed Harris.

Heather Humphreys is fresh off the high of being appointed deputy leader of Fine Gael at the weekend, replacing Coveney.

The Social Protection Minister was elected to the Dáil in 2011 for the Cavan-Monaghan constituency. 

She previously served as Minister for Business and as Minister for Arts.

There was speculation that she would step into the justice brief, but that didn’t come to fruition.

The new ranks of junior ministers will be announced tomorrow. 

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Mairead Maguire and Christina Finn
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