Government criticised for boosting junior minister ranks to 18

Enda Kenny creates three new Minister of State posts with added focus on health portfolio

Fine Gael TDs Seán Kyne and Eoghan Murphy were among those named new Ministers of State. Photographs: Fine Gael

Fine Gael TDs Seán Kyne and Eoghan Murphy were among those named new Ministers of State. Photographs: Fine Gael


Taoiseach Enda Kenny’s decision to increase the number of junior ministers from 15 to 18 has been strongly criticised by outgoing Labour leader Joan Burton.

She said it was remarkable the number of junior ministers had been increased by three, and was fast approaching the record of 20 set by former taoiseach Bertie Ahern.

Ms Burton said it was particularly disappointing that despite the fact that there were 18 Ministers of State there was no room for an arts minister.

Announcing the appointments in the Dáil, Mr Kenny said four of the 18 posts were attached to the Department of Health indicating the Government’s priority in that area.

Of the 18 appointees, four are women, with Catherine Byrne, Marcella Corcoran Kennedy and Helen McEntee joining chief whip Regina Doherty in the junior ministerial ranks.

A popular promotion was that of long-serving Cork East TD David Stanton, who was given special responsibility for Equality, Immigration, and Integration at the Department of Justice.

He was chairman of the justice committee in the last Dáil which was widely regarded as one of the most effective Oireachtas committees.

One the surprise appointments was that of Limerick County TD Patrick O’Donovan as junior minister for Tourism and Sport. Another surprise was Wicklow TD Andrew Doyle who has been given responsibility for Food, Forestry and Horticulture.

Outgoing junior minister Damien English from Meath West returns as Minister of State for Housing and Urban Renewal.

The two members of the Independent Alliance appointed Ministers of State were Waterford TD John Halligan who was given responsibility for Training and Skills and Galway East TD Sean Canney who got the Office of Public Works and Flood Relief.

Mr Canney will share the post with fellow Independent Kevin “Boxer” Moran who will take over as Minister of State after a year.

The 15 appointments came on top of the three Ministers of State who were appointed when the Government was formed.

Mr Kenny’s appointments did not include Martin Heydon, John Deasy and John Paul Phelan, who had been tipped for a position.

The full list is as follows:

Paul Kehoe: Minister of State for Defence

Regina Doherty: Government Chief Whip (Department of the Taoiseach)

Finian McGrath: Minister of State for Disability

Dara Murphy: Minister of State for European Affairs, Data Protection and EU Single Digital Market

Eoghan Murphy: Minister of State for Financial Services, eGovernment and Public Procurement

Patrick O’Donovan: Minister of State for Tourism and Sport

Damien English: Minister of State for Housing and Urban Renewal

Séan Kyne: Minister of State for Gaeltacht Affairs and Natural Resources

Andrew Doyle: Minister of State for Food, Forestry and Horticulture

Pat Breen: Minister of State for Employment and Small Business

John Halligan: Minister of State for Training and Skills

Helen McEntee: Minister of State for Mental Health and Older People

Marcella Corcoran Kennedy: Minister of State for Health Promotion

Sean Canney: Minister of State for the Office of Public Works and Flood Relief

Joe McHugh: Minister of State for the Diaspora and Overseas Development Aid

Michael Ring: Minister of State for Regional Economic Development

Catherine Byrne: Minister of State for Communities and National Drugs Strategy

David Stanton: Minister of State for Justice with special responsibility for Equality, Immigration and Integration