Reshuffle sees departmental changes


As part of his Cabinet reshuffle, Taoiseach Brian Cowen told the Dáil today he would be re-assigning responsibilities between Government departments. A number of departments will also be given different titles.

The Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment is to be renamed as the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Innovation, headed by Mr Batt O’Keeffe, who was previously Minister for Education and Science. R&D funding for the Programme for Research in Third-Level Institutions is being transferred from Education to Mr O'Keeffe's new department.

The Department of Education and Science is being renamed as the Education and Skills with Tánaiste Mary Coughlan as minister. She will retain responsibility for skills and training policy which was up to now under the remit of Enterprise, Training and Employment.

In addition to the work of the Expert Group on Future Skills Needs, Ms Coughlan will retain responsibility for the training activities of FÁS, the national training and employment authority.

The Department of Social and Family Affairs will become the Department of Social Protection, with Éamon Ó Cuív in charge. The employment services and community services programmes of FÁS are being transferred to Mr Ó Cuív’s new department and the Taoiseach also intends to give him responsibility for the Rural Social Scheme. Mr Cowen also envisages that responsibility for the payment of redundancy and insolvency payments will eventually come under Mr Ó Cuív’s remit.

Responsibility for FÁS has been divided among three Departments - Enterprise, Trade and Innovation; Social Protection; and Education and Skills - whereas previously it was entirely under Enterprise, Trade and Employment.

The Department of Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs will now become the Department of Community, Equality and Gaeltacht Affairs, with Pat Carey as Minister instead of Eamon O Cuiv. Carey's portfolio will incorporate responsibility for social inclusion policy and family policy from the Department of Social and Family Affairs and for equality, disability, integration and human rights from the Department of Justice, Equality and Law Reform.

The Department of Arts, Sport and Tourism becomes the Department of Tourism, Culture and Sport under Mary Hanafin, who is moving from Social and Family Affairs.

The Taoiseach is appointing Dara Calleary to be Minister of State at the Departments of Finance and the Taoiseach, in addition to his current responsibility for Labour Affairs, with Mr Cowen claiming that this will "strengthen the political leadership of the change process" in the public service. The Government will also appoint a Public Service Board, "including members from outside the public service with appropriate experience and skills".