Two Ministers of State to be appointed to assist Paschal Donohoe
Varadkar not likely to consider those elected in 2016 when appointing Ministers of State
Waterford TD John Deasy: he is tipped for promotion to Minister of State. Photograph: Bryan O’Brien
Two Ministers of State will be appointed to assist Minister for Finance and Minister for Expenditure and Reform Paschal Donohoe, Government sources have indicated.
The two departments controlled by Mr Donohoe will be allotted two juniors for the first time when Taoiseach Leo Varadkar announces the Government’s Ministers of State in the Dáil on Tuesday.
“Both will be reporting to Finance and to Public Expenditure and Reform,” said a source. “Their role will be to support Mr Donohoe and also to help the consolidation of the two departments.”
It was also confirmed Mr Varadkar will not consider any TD first elected in 2016 when appointing the new Ministers of State.
The Taoiseach will disclose the identities of as many as 13 Ministers of State after their appointments have been approved by the Cabinet at its weekly meeting on Tuesday.
A spokesman said that despite the obvious skills and ability of some of the new intake from last year, it was felt 12 months in the Dáil had not given them sufficient experience to be promoted at this stage.
There were indications there may be one new appointment from those first elected in 2002, raising the possibility that Waterford TD John Deasy may be appointed.
There are 10 outgoing Ministers of State in Fine Gael, although all will not be reappointed. Those considered most vulnerable include supporters of the defeated Fine Gael leadership contender Simon Coveney.
The Coveney supporters in the junior ministerial ranks – Damien English, David Stanton, Marcella Corcoran-Kennedy and Dara Murphy – have been among the stronger performers of the 18 Ministers of State.
Mr Stanton, an Oireachtas member for 20 years, has overseen three strategies in the past year in the justice and equality area.
Asked about his prospects, he said: “That is the Taoiseach’s prerogative. I will do whatever job I am asked to do, whether it’s at the front, middle or back.”
With the creation of a fourth “super-junior” position to accommodate Mary Mitchell O’Connor, who was demoted from a full ministry, it is not certain if Mr Varadkar will maintain the number of juniors at 18 or increase it to 19.
If he were to increase it, it would bring the numbers to within one of the historically highest number of 20, which occurred during Bertie Ahern’s third term as taoiseach. The number was reduced during the recession, but has crept up again under the two Fine Gael-led governments.
If it remains at 18 some 12 Fine Gael TDs will be appointed on Tuesday along with the three already appointed Fine Gael super-juniors – Ms Mitchell-O’Connor, Paul Kehoe (Defence) and Joe McHugh (Chief Whip).
Finian McGrath from the Independent Alliance is the fourth super-junior. Two other Independent TDs, Kevin “Boxer” Moran and John Halligan, are also Ministers of State.
Of the 10 existing juniors, six were Varadkar supporters in the leadership contest: Pat Breen (Clare), Catherine Byrne (Dublin South Central), Sean Kyne (Galway West), Patrick O’Donovan (Limerick), Helen McEntee (Meath East) and Andrew Doyle (Wicklow).
Those who have been tipped for promotion are John Paul Phelan (Kilkenny), Martin Heyden (Kildare South), Fergus O’Dowd (Louth), Michael Darcy (Wexford), Pat Deering (Carlow), Mr Deasy (Waterford), Brendan Griffin (Kerry), Jim Daly (Cork South West), Ciarán Cannon (Galway East) and Alan Farrell (Dublin Fingal).