Jack Chambers named as new Minister for Finance

Chambers replaces Michael McGrath who has been nominated as Ireland’s next European commissioner

Dublin West Fianna Fáil TD Jack Chambers will become Minister for Finance

Jack Chambers has been selected to take on the role of Minister for Finance, replacing Michael McGrath who has been nominated by the Government as Ireland’s next European commissioner.

The Dublin West Fianna Fáil TD is to take the reins at the Department of Finance as the Coalition prepares for its crucial last budget before the next general election.

Tánaiste Micheál Martin described Mr Chambers as a “very able, intelligent, highly effective politician”, adding that he had “no doubt he will make a very effective Minister for Finance”.

Mr Chambers was announced as Fianna Fáil deputy leader last week.


Speaking in the Dáil on Tuesday afternoon, Taoiseach Simon Harris said Mr Chambers would be formally nominated as Minister for Finance in the Dáil on Wednesday afternoon and there would be a vote by TDs.

Earlier, Mr Harris described Mr McGrath as “a dedicated public servant, a skilled Minister and an extremely diligent and hard worker”.

The Taoiseach said he would be bringing his nomination to the European Council later this week and he added that he hoped member states’ nominee for commission president would be finalised at the same meeting.

Outgoing commission president Ursula von der Leyen is widely expected to be nominated by the council for a second term but will face a vote in the European Parliament before she can be confirmed in the position.

Mr Martin praised Mr McGrath for his “shrewd stewardship” of the economy in his time as both minister for finance and minister for public expenditure.

He said one of Mr McGrath’s “great legacies will be the Future Ireland Fund and the Climate Infrastructure Fund which are about future-proofing this country”.

Asked what portfolio he would prefer at EU level, Mr McGrath, a chartered accountant by profession, said an economic or financial portfolio would “seem to be an obvious area” given his qualifications and political experience.

“But it is something we will discuss over the days ahead. And as you know, when it comes to the allocation of different portfolios by the president of the commission, there are many factors that come into play.”

Mr McGrath said it was “an incredible honour” to be nominated as Ireland’s commissioner.

He thanked the people of his constituency, Cork South Central, and also said: “I certainly could not have done any of this without the extraordinary love and support of my family, especially my wife Sarah.”

Mr McGrath said the past four years in Government had been hugely rewarding. “There really hasn’t been a dull moment,” he said. “I’m leaving the Department of Finance at a time when our economy is in very good health overall.”

He said Mr Chambers “has all the qualities to be an excellent Minister for Finance”.

“He has the intellect, he has the integrity and I think he will continue the very good working relationship that I have developed with Minister Paschal Donohoe over the last number of years.”

Mr Martin was asked by reporters if Ireland would put forward a woman nominee for commissioner if Ms von der Leyen asks for gender-balanced options as she did previously.

“All the indications are that Ursula von der Leyen will be the president and then there’s a formal process. The president may write to the Government. The Government will consider that at that stage, but essentially, we have recommended Michael McGrath as our nominee,” he said.

Jack Chambers: young Dublin West TD catapulted into the deep end of Irish politicsOpens in new window ]

The nomination of Mr McGrath was discussed at a meeting of the three Coalition leaders on Monday before being approved at Cabinet on Tuesday.

Mr Harris said that although the European commissioner nominee was made by Fianna Fáil under the terms of the programme for government, it was not “a party political” position.

“For me, this isn’t about tribal politics or party politics or partisan politics, just by putting our best foot forward and about sending the best person that we can to the European Commission.”

Mr McGrath succeeds Fine Gael-nominated commissioner Mairead McGuinness.

Michael McGrath to be nominated as Ireland’s next European CommissionerOpens in new window ]

Mr Harris signalled that the Government was hoping for an economic portfolio for Mr McGrath in the next European Commission.

Mr Harris said he would be attending a European Council summit later this week. “I will obviously do so armed with the name of the person that Ireland wishes to be our next commissioner and that will I suppose enable Ireland to begin to engage on what portfolios might be appropriate.

“It’s important we take this step by step but I do think that a portfolio in the economic space is often an area that Ireland would seek.”

Michael McGrath TD is Ireland's nominee for the European Commission with Jack Chambers set to take over as Minister for Finance. Video: Bryan O'Brien
Cormac McQuinn

Cormac McQuinn

Cormac McQuinn is a Political Correspondent at The Irish Times