Leo Varadkar’s Cabinet: Minister by Minister

A who’s who of all the faces in new Taoiseach’s Cabinet


Leo Eric Varadkar (38)

Dublin West

Outgoing minister for social protection, previously held health and transport portfolio.


Mr Varadkar has been elected the 14th Taoiseach and the youngest ever holder of that office. He won the Fine Gael leadership contest beating Simon Coveney with 60 per cent of the vote.

Mr Varadkar’s election as Taoiseach comes 10 years after his first election as a TD.

Minister for Finance and Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform

Paschal Donohoe (42)

Dublin Central

Seen as a future Fine Gael leader, Mr Donohoe was first elected to the Dáil in the 2011 general election, topping the poll in the Dublin Central constituency.

He was appointed minister of state for European Affairs after the departure of Lucinda Creighton from Fine Gael. He was promoted to the Department of Transport in 2014 and was then given the important portfolio of the Department of Public Expenditure.

Minister for Education and Skills

Richard Bruton (64)

Dublin North-Central

Mr Bruton, who was first appointed a TD in 1986, retains his outgoing portfolio.

He served as a minister for enterprise and innovation from 1992-1997. In opposition, he served as Fine Gael’s spokesman on finance until he initiated a failed heave against Enda Kenny in 2010.

Mr Bruton served as minister for jobs for five years before being appointed to the Department of Education in 2016.

Minister for Justice and Equality

Charlie Flanagan (60)


Mr Flanagan has been shuffled to the Department of Justice, a move prompted by Simon Coveney’s desire to move to the Department of Foreign Affairs.

Mr Flanagan served as justice spokesman while Fine Gael was in opposition before 2011. He was first elected to the Dáil in 1987, he lost his seat in 2002 when Fine Gael suffered an electoral disaster but regained it in 2007.

Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise and Innovation

Frances Fitzgerald (66)

Dublin South-East

Outgoing minister for justice, previously held children portfolio. She was first elected a TD in 1992 and was appointed minister for children in 2011. She replaced Alan Shatter in the Department of Justice in 2014 and has been in that portfolio since. Enda Kenny appointed her Tánaiste in 2016.

Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade, with special responsibility for Brexit

Simon Coveney (44)

Cork South Central

Mr Coveney was beaten by Taoiseach Leo Varadkar in the Fine Gael leadership election by 60 per cent to 40 per cent, but won by a margin of 65 per cent to 35 per cent among rank and file members.

He was minister for housing until now, and has previously held the positions of minister for agriculture and minister for defence. He was first elected to the Dáil in 1998 in a byelection following the death of his father, Hugh Coveney. He also served as an MEP between 2004 and 2007.

Minster for Arts, Heritage and Culture

Heather Humphreys (54)


Outgoing minister for arts, heritage, regional, rural and Gaeltacht affairs, Ms Humphreys was a loyal ally of former taoiseach Enda Kenny but was one of the first Ministers to declare her support for Mr Varadkar in the recent Fine Gael contest.

She won plaudits last year for her stewardship of the year of centenary commemorations for the 1916 Rising.

Minister for Health

Simon Harris (30)


First elected in 2011, he was awarded Cabinet rank last year.

Mr Harris backed Mr Coveney in the Fine Gael leadership contest and the Cork South Central TD urged Mr Varadkar to keep him in Cabinet. Mr Harris and Mr Varadkar are known to have an uneasy relationship.

Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine

Michael Creed (53)

Cork North West

Retains portfolio. His appointment as Minister for Agriculture in 2016 took everybody by surprise as he and Mr Kenny had fallen out spectacularly in 2010, after Mr Creed backed Richard Bruton in the leadership contest.

The son of a Fine Gael TD, he is low-profile but is regarded as a very competent Minister with a deep knowledge of his portfolio. He was one of the few who did not declare his voting intentions in the recent leadership contest. Obviously supported Mr Varadkar though.

Minister for Communications, Climate Action and the Environment

Denis Naughten (43)


Retains portfolio. Another who fell out with Mr Kenny after the leadership tussle in 2010, Mr Naughten subsequently left Fine Gael and is an Independent Minister.

A policy wonk, he is highly competent and has a science background. He has tried to promote broadband to rural areas; critics say he has not pushed hard enough on climate change.

Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport

Shane Ross (67)

Dublin Rathdown

Retains portfolio. A brilliant orator who is outspoken but very inconsistent and contradictory in his views. He has been a charismatic leader for the Independent Alliance but has not really made any mark in his ministry.

Instead he has crusaded on issues such as the Judicial Appointments Bill whose purpose has now been undermined by the appointment of Máire Whelan to the Court of Appeal.

Minister for Employment and Social Protection

Regina Doherty (46)

Meath East

Promoted from chief whip. Ms Doherty’s name has been linked with a promotion for some time and there was surprise last year when Mr Kenny favoured Mary Mitchell O’Connor over her.

She is a good communicator but has run into all kinds of trouble in her six years as a TD. The controversies have included her financial affairs, her uneasy relationship with Fine Gael constituency colleague Helen McEntee and her performance as whip (where the Government lost votes, or some TDs went missing). She has modified her social views in recent years and is a strong “ideas” person.

Minister for Children and Youth Affairs

Katherine Zappone (63)

Dublin South-West

Ms Zappone was a taoiseach’s nominee to the Seanad in 2011, after being recommended by the then Labour Party leader Eamon Gilmore.

She is a former member of the Irish Human Rights Commission and former chief executive of the National Women’s Council of Ireland.

Born in Seattle, Washington in the US, she became an Irish citizen in 1995 and was the first openly lesbian member of the Oireachtas.

Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government

Eoghan Murphy (35)

Dublin Bay South

Mr Murphy was Mr Varadkar’s campaign manager in the Fine Gael leadership race and has been rewarded with a place in Cabinet. He was previously junior minister at the Departments of Finance and Pubic Expenditure.

During the last Dáil, he was a member of the “five aside” group of Fine Gael TDs who sometimes criticised Government policy, and advocated Dáil and political reform. He is expected to play a significant role in the planning of the next general election.

Minister for Community and Rural Affairs

Michael Ring (63)


Mr Ring fulfils a long-time ambition, finally making it to the Cabinet after two disappointments. A gregarious character, he forged a close working relationship as junior minister to Mr Varadkar in the Department of Transport and Sport, and was an early supporter in the leadership campaign. After a decade and a half of playing second fiddle to Mr Kenny in Mayo, he will relish his appointment.

Minister of State for Defence

Paul Kehoe (44)


Mr Kehoe remains at the Cabinet table securing his super junior role with responsibility for defence.

He was chief whip during the last Government and a key ally of Mr Kenny. But with Mr Kenny’s departure impending last year, he became an important supporter of Mr Varadkar and was a key member of his leadership campaign team. He was previously a “super junior” minister for defence, meaning he attends Cabinet meetings but cannot vote.

Chief Whip and Minister for Gaeltacht Affairs

Joe McHugh (45)


Mr McHugh was previously junior minister with responsibility for the Gaeltacht, a position he was appointed to without a command of Irish. But he has worked hard to make himself fluent and has been highly regarded in the role.

He was a strong supporter of Mr Varadkar in the campaign and his wife, the former Fine Gael TD Olwyn Enright, was also a key adviser to the Varadkar campaign.

Minister of State for Education with special responsibility for higher education

Mary Mitchell O’Connor (58)

Dún Laoghaire

Outgoing minister for jobs, enterprise and innovation, which was her first Government department.

There was some speculation that Ms Mitchell O’Connor might be dropped from Cabinet. Instead she has been demoted to a junior post. She is understood to have been offered a “super junior” post with responsibility for equality and law reform. However it is understood she declined that position and held a second meeting with Mr Varadkar and she was offered a “super junior” for higher education.

She is a former principal of the Harold School in Glasthule in south Dublin.

Originally from Milltown in Co Galway, she was first elected to the Dáil in the 2011 general election. She joined Fine Gael in 2007, having been elected to the Dún Laoghaire Rathdown County Council as a member of the Progressive Democrats in 2004.

Minister of State with special responsibility for disabilities

Finian McGrath (65)

Dublin Bay North

Retains position. The Independent Alliance TD was appointed a “super junior” minister in 2016, meaning he attends Cabinet meetings but cannot vote.

He was first elected in 2002 as an Independent. He supported the Fianna Fáil/Green Party coalition in the 30th Dáil.

Harry McGee

Harry McGee

Harry McGee is a Political Correspondent with The Irish Times

Pat Leahy

Pat Leahy

Pat Leahy is Political Editor of The Irish Times

Mary Minihan

Mary Minihan

Mary Minihan is Features Editor of The Irish Times