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Simon Harris receiving his seal of office from President Michael D Higgins yesterday Sam Boal/
Cabinet Reshuffle

Justice portfolio will be my priority in the coming months, says Harris

Harris will serve as Minister for Justice until Helen McEntee returns from maternity leave, as well as retaining his Higher Education brief.

SIMON HARRIS HAS said he intends to give his new role as Minister for Justice his “all”, despite retaining his position as Minister for Higher and Further Education.

Harris will be responsible for the Justice portfolio until outgoing Minister for Justice Helen McEntee returns from maternity leave next year.

Speaking on Newstalk today, Harris said: “I think there’s no greater role that any minister has than the safety and security of citizens in the state. And I’ll be taking that responsibility extremely seriously.

Let me be very clear: For the next five, six months, I am the Minister of Justice.

“I will be giving this job my all. The Taoiseach was very clear that I am to give this job my all.

He added that “I have a very good department that I enjoy in the Department of Further and Higher Education” but it is not a department “that tends not to be in the political crosshairs that often.”

He said he wanted to “assure the people of Ireland that the security and safety of citizens of this country and of members of An Garda Síochána will be my absolute main priority for the coming months.”

Helen McEntee was named Minister Without Portfolio until she returns from maternity leave. She gave birth to a baby boy, her second son, last week.

cabinet 285 Sam Boal / Sam Boal / /

Harris’s appointment as Minister for Justice for the next six months was largely unexpected in the Cabinet reshuffle yesterday: no new personnel were appointed by new Taoiseach Leo Varadkar, with only some changes in the Departments of Foreign Affairs, Enterprise, Finance and Public Expenditure.

After his election as Taoiseach, Varadkar announced his Cabinet in the Dáil. There are 18 government departments, or departments of state.

The new ranks of junior ministers will be announced next week – most likely on Tuesday.

Former Taoiseach, Micheál Martin, is to take up the role of Minister for Foreign Affairs alongside the office of the Tánaiste. It had been widely speculated that he would opt for the job and push Simon Coveney into another portfolio, Enterprise.

Outgoing Finance Minister Paschal Donohoe and Public Expenditure Minister Michael McGrath have swapped roles.

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