This Cabinet reshuffle has its origins in the outcome of the 2020 General Election and subsequent government formation agreement between the three-party coalition.
The two larger parties, Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael, agreed to rotate the two most senior government roles (Taoiseach and Minister for Finance) at the midway point of the government’s term of office.
Now at this juncture, in a direct swap, Leo Varadkar becomes Taoiseach (Prime Minister) with Michéal Martin becoming Tánaiste (Deputy Prime Minister) and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Defence. Fianna Fáil’s Michael McGrath becomes Minister for Finance with Fine Gael’s Paschal Donohoe becoming Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform.
Simon Coveney becomes Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment. Minister of State Hildegarde Naughton is appointed Chief Whip with the previous occupant, Jack Chambers becoming ‘Super Junior’ Minister at the Department of Transport. Rossa Fanning, Senior Counsel is the new Attorney General. Minister of State appointments, which will be minimal, are set to be announced this week.
The limited scope of the reshuffle at this senior level reflects the political realities of reshuffles, the results of the last general election, and the respective positions of the decision-makers involved.
Following a two-year period as Tánaiste, Varadkar assumes the position of Taoiseach for a second time. He will be under pressure to boost both his personal and party’s political resonance in advance of the next general election. How Martin adapts in his revised role will be keenly monitored, including by his party who have flatlined politically.
Meanwhile, Sinn Féin continue to hold the political momentum. As the most consistently popular party in the opinion polls and having won the most votes at the last election, they continue to astutely position themselves with an eye to being in the lead position to form a government after the next general election.
Covid-19, housing, and the cost-of-living crises have presented considerable challenges to this government. While some elements of the Programme for Government have picked-up pace, there are outstanding policy areas that the public will want to see progress on ahead of the next general election, particularly in the area of housing. Outstanding Brexit related issues and their wider economic and political relevance will also dominate.
The capacity of a reset government to renew will be watched closely. We look forward to tracking it in your favour.
About the author
Dan founded 360 to deliver intelligent communications as a service. Since 2011, he has cultivated a diverse and skilled team of professionals who share his vision, ethos, and passion for redefining and reshaping PR. Dan works in close partnership with some of Ireland and Europe’s leading CEOs and senior executives to build their organisations’ communications cultures and equip them with the tools to succeed in fast-changing political, commercial, and social landscapes. Previously, Dan was a senior government and political advisor during Bertie Ahern’s term as Taoiseach and communications director for the Irish Tax Institute.