Enda Kenny announces minority government Cabinet

Simon Harris, Shane Ross, Denis Naughten, Katherine Zappone, Mary Mitchell O’Connor all appointed

The negotiations to form the 32nd Dáil have been the longest in the history of the state. Successful on the fourth count, Enda Kenny becomes the only Fine Gael leader to re-elected as Taoiseach.

 

Enda Kenny has shuffled his ministerial pack and appointed a number of TDs as Ministers for the first time in his Fine Gael-Independent minority government Cabinet.

The support received from Independent TDs in securing Mr Kenny a second successive term as Taoiseach, the first time a Fine Gael leader has done so, has been rewarded with three of his supporters taking senior roles and one a super junior ministry.

The Independent Ministers are Katherine Zappone (Children and Youth Affairs), Shane Ross (Transport), Denis Naughten (Communications) and Finian McGrath will be the super junior minister with responsibility for disability.

Among the new Fine Gael Ministers are Simon Harris (Health), Mary Mitchell O’Connor (Jobs and Enterprise) and Michael Creed (Agriculture).

Leo Varadkar (Social Protection), Simon Coveney (Housing and Planning), Paschal Donohoe (Public Expenditure) and Richard Bruton (Education) will all take on new Cabinet roles.

However, newly appointed Tánaiste Frances Fitzgerald (Justice), Michael Noonan (Finance), Charlie Flanagan (Foreign Affairs) and Heather Humphreys (Arts) will be staying in their previous roles.

Regina Doherty will be chief whip and a Minister of State, as will Paul Kehoe, who will have responsibility for the Department of Defence. Máire Whelan will stay on as Attorney General.

After being elected as Taoiseach of the 32nd Dáil on Friday afternoon, 70 days after the general election, Mr Kenny arrived in the Dáil some four hours later with his new ministerial team.

Partnership government document in full

Independent support

With support from nine Independents, Mr Kenny won the backing of 59 deputies in Friday afternoon’s vote on Taoiseach with 49 TDs voting against him.

Fine Gael was seeking 58 votes to secure its role as leader of a minority government and Mr Kenny as taoiseach. Fianna Fáil earlier warned it would not follow through on an agreement to support Fine Gael if the number was not reached.

Mr Kenny won the support of his party of 50 and five Independent Alliance TDs as well as Mr Naughten, Michael Harty, Ms Zappone and Michael Lowry.

The abstention of the 43 Fianna Fáil TDs, who remained in their seats watching all the other TDs vote, secured Mr Kenny a second successive term .

The Fine Gael- Independent government will be supported by Fianna Fáil on certain matters such as budgets in an arrangement due to last three years.

Speaking after his election, Mr Kenny said: “The circumstances of today are of course very different from those of five years ago when Ireland was in deep crisis, when our country’s very survival was in doubt.

He said he accepted that many people are yet to feel the benefits of the economic recovery.

“If economic survival was the urgent priority of the last government then using a strong economy to improve the lives, the quality of the lives of our people, must and will be the priority of the new government and that fundamental principle will be the bedrock of our policy programme.”

Mr Kenny visited Áras an Uachtaráin to receive his seal of office from President Michael D Higgins and to sign his warrant of appointment.

Turf-cutting

Independent Alliance TD Michael Fitzmaurice, who was concerned over proposals on turf-cutting, did not support Mr Kenny in the vote.

Infrastructure projects and the allocation of ministerial appointments were other stumbling blocks in the talks between Fine Gael and the Independents earlier.

Mr Fitzmaurice said: “This is not the politics of the cattle mart. We are trying to fast-forward the situation about the preservation of the bogs. This will be for the good of the country.”

The Fine Gael parliamentary party ratified the programme for government agreed with Independents.

During a Dáil debate ahead of the vote, Fine Gael TD Noel Rock nominated Mr Kenny as Taoiseach for the fourth time since the general election at the end of February.

He said there would be an ethos of openness and inclusivity and there was nobody better to head a government than Mr Kenny.

The Taoiseach’s wife Fionnuala O’Kelly and the couple’s three children sat in the VIP gallery in Leinster House.