Make-up of departments to be kept under wraps until new government is formed

Make-up of departments to be kept under wraps until new government is formed

The role of government departments and the ministers who will oversee them will be kept a closely guarded secret by party leaders until a actual government is approved.

Of the 15 departments operating under this government, parts will be siphoned off and sections moved sideways onto other departments. Some whole departments could even be heading for the scrap heap.

The leaders of Fianna Fáil, Fine Gael and the Greens met yesterday and will again today to mull over how the next government will look and how departments will reflect priorities agreed in their programme for government, and which ministers will run them.

The Irish Examiner understands, following widespread lobbying, the Department of Children will be kept as a standalone department and, potentially, even strengthened. Party sources say it may also incorporate equality or community affairs in an effort to beef up the department. 

The process of splitting up the Department of Justice has been ongoing after a report recommended separating it into a separate roles for home affairs and justice and equality. This would likely slim down the security side of the role, which would still be a standalone department.

Elsewhere, the Greens are almost certain to take command of a joint climate, energy and transport portfolio. The suggestion is this could all be under one department. If so, sport and tourism would be added to other departments.

And while there have been reported demands for higher education to be a standalone department, this is seen a very niche, given other areas needing a voice at the Cabinet table. Instead, party negotiating sources suggest the role of a junior minister for third level may remain.

Other changes mooted include moving communications into the Department of Arts, while it is already a given that Finance and Public Expenditure will be split again and divided between Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil.

There is also speculation the Department of Business may be strengthened with trade and employment responsibilities. This would give the minister in charge a part in the expected July stimulus package to help the economic recovery under the new coalition.

Negotiating sources also expect the Department of Rural Affairs will be axed.

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