Varadkar promotes supporters in junior ministerial appointments

Dropped junior minister: ‘He said he had to reward his supporters’

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar is appointing junior ministers on Tuesday

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar is appointing junior ministers on Tuesday


Taoiseach Leo Varadkar has appointed ministers of state in his new administration, promoting key allies in the recent Fine Gael leadership election.

John Paul Phelan, a Varadkar supporter in the contest, has been made a junior minister in the Department of Housing, Planning and Local Government. He will have responsibility for electoral reform and local government.

Damien English, who was Simon Coveney’s campaign manager in the Fine Gael leadership race, will remain a junior minister in the same department with responsiblity for housing.

There are now three ministerial roles associated with the housing, including Eoghan Murphy, who was promoted to the senior ranks as Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government in last week’s reshuffle.

David Stanton, who supported Mr Coveney’s leadership campaign, has also been retained as a junior minister.

However, Cork North Central’s Dara Murphy, a Coveney supporter, confirmed he has been dropped to the backbenches. Mr Murphy had served as Minister for European Affairs but said he was told of his demotion in an early morning phone call with Mr Varadkar.

“He said he had to reward his supporters,” Mr Murphy said.

Mr Murphy said that it was matter of regret that the three people who had built up contacts across the European Union ahead of Brexit - former Taoiseach Enda Kenny, Charlie Flanagan, who was moved from the Department of Foreign Affairs to the Department of Justice, and himself - had been moved from their posts.

Mr Murphy was Minister of State for Data Protection and European Affairs . Pat Breen has been given some of Mr Murphy’s responsibilities.

Mr Varadkar’s spokesman insisted all appointments were made on merit.

Ciarán Cannon is to become the minister for the diaspora, Andrew Doyle has been reappointed in the Department of Agriculture, while Meath East’s Helen McEntee has been appointed Minister for European Affairs. Minister of State for Gaeltacht Affairs Sean Kyne stays a junior minister, and it is understood Michael D’Arcy has also been appointed a junior minister in the Department of Finance.

Jim Daly has been given the mental health and older people portfolio, while Marcella Corcoran Kennedy, another supporter of Mr Coveney, has also been dropped. The Offaly TD was a junior minister in the Department of Health.

Ms Corcoran-Kennedy said she was “disappointed” to have been demoted adding that Mr Varadkar told her that he had supporters he needed to look after, but said she was expecting the news.

“Clearly they were going to have be represented somewhere,” she added, while saying she is initially disappointing on the level of female representation in Mr Varadkar’s Cabinet and junior ministerial ranks, although she is awaiting a final list.

The Cabinet is signing off on the jobs at its weekly meeting today. In all, five backbenchers are being promoted to junior minister posts.

The post of Minister of State comes with a €124,439 salary, a €34,474 boost on the TD’s salary of €89,965. Each Minister of State also receives a car and driver to assist with their duties, and allowance for an additional advisor.


John Paul Phelan - Local Government and Electoral Reform (Housing)

Jim Daly - Older People and Mental Health (Health)

Ciarán Cannon - Diaspora and International Development (Foreign Affairs)

Michael Darcy - Financial Service and Insurance ( Finance and Public Expenditure)

Brendan Griffin. -Tourism and Sport (Transport Tourism and Sport).

Retained in same role:

Pat Breen - Employment and Small Business also date protection (Dept of Jobs, Innovation Enterprise).

Andrew Doyle - Food, Forestry and Horticulture (Agriculture)

Catherine Byrne - Drugs Strategy and Health Promotion (Health)

David Stanton - Equality and Immigration (Justice)

Damian English - Housing and Urban Renewal (Housing).

Retained in new role:

Sean Kyne - Community, Natural Resources and Digital Strategy (Rural Affairs, and Communications). - Formerly Minister of State for Gaeltacht

Patrick O’Donovan - Public Procurement, e-governmetn Finance and Public Expenditure - Formerly Minister of State for Tourism and Sport

Helen McEntee - EU Affairs (Taoiseach) - Formerly Minister of State for Older People

Demoted to backbenches:

Dara Murphy

Marcella Corcoran Kennedy