Leo’s minions: Meet the Minister of State with a 43-word title
Some of the Taoiseach’s junior ministers are charged with working to multiple departments
Minister of State Pat Breen has been charged with working across four Government Departments.
Minister of State Pat Breen’s extraordinary 43-word title lists the four Government Departments he works for, and the numerous responsibilities given to him, by new Taoiseach Leo Varadkar.
Following Tuesday’s reshuffle, Mr Breen is now Minister of State at the Department of Enterprise and Innovation, the Department of Employment and Social Protection, the Department of the Taoiseach and the Department of Justice and Equality with special responsibility for Trade, Employment, Business, EU Digital Single Market and Data Protection.
The Clare TD intends to continue to be based in the Kildare Street offices of the Department of Enterprise and Innovation and “doesn’t know” if he will have four desks in the various Departments he now answers to.
“I’ll be working here from my own office in the Department of Enterprise and Innovation. There are discussions with secretaries general in relation to responsibilities and it’ll take a number of weeks to sort out logistics,” he said.
Mr Breen said he intended to focus particularly on jobs, trade, the digital single market and data protection.
Finian McGrath of the Independent Alliance works to three Government Departments.
He is Minister of State at the Department of Social Protection, the Department of Justice and Equality, and the Department of Health with special responsibility for Disability Issues.
He estimates that he spends the bulk of his time, perhaps 60 per cent, in Hawkins House on Hawkins Street in Dublin, where the Department of Health is based.
“It is very difficult and very time consuming, so what you’re inclined to do is focus on one thing. I spend most of my time in Health, some of my time in Justice, but if you asked me to call it the engine room for me would be Health,” he said.
Mr McGrath’s Independent Alliance colleague John Halligan says he has a total of five offices.
Mr Halligan’s title is Minister of State at the Department of Enterprise and Innovation and the Department of Education and Skills with special responsibility for Training, Skills, Innovation, Research and Development.
“It is difficult, there’s no question about it, because actually I have 13 areas of responsibility, everything from school transport to the European Space Agency, but I have good staff and I get on well with the two secretaries general.”
Mr Halligan said he had an office on Kildare Street at the Department of Enterprise and Innovation and one in Marlborough Street where the Department of Education is situated. He also has an office in Leinster House and two constituency offices: one in Waterford city and the other in Tramore.
Paul Kehoe’s full title is Minister of State at the Department of the Taoiseach and the Department of Defence with special responsibility for Defence.
The Fine Gael “super junior” bases himself in the Taoiseach’s Department on Upper Merrion Street but spends one day a week in Defence’s decentralised office in Newbridge, Co Kildare.
Mr Kehoe said he was in Dublin every Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday most weeks but tried to get to Newbridge on Thursday after Dáil votes were complete, because “it’s important for Departmental staff there to see me”.
Meanwhile, Sean Kyne has the title Minister of State at the Department of Rural and Community Development and the Department of Communications, Climate Action and Environment with responsibility for natural resources, community affairs and digital development.
He was previously based in the Kildare Street Department of Arts Heritage and the Gaeltacht.
He has an office on Dublin’s Adelaide Road where the Department of Communications is based, but tends to base himself in Leinster House to be nearby when votes are called in the Dail chamber.
The new Department of Rural and Community Affairs has yet to be established, “so we have to find premises.”