The new Cabinet: Pascal Donohoe to Finance, Coveney to Foreign Affairs

The new Cabinet: Pascal Donohoe to Finance, Coveney to Foreign Affairs

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar has named his new Cabinet this evening.

Update 8.35pm: New Taoiseach Leo Varadkar has formally announced his new cabinet which while remaining largely the same as Enda Kenny's includes a series of high-profile changes at Ireland's top political table, writes Political Correspondent, Fiachra Ó Cionnaith.

The new Cabinet: Pascal Donohoe to Finance, Coveney to Foreign Affairs

In a statement to the Dáil this evening, Mr Varadkar confirmed Frances Fitzgerald will remain as Tánaiste but will be effectively demoted to the Jobs portfolio.

Beaten leadership contender Simon Coveney has been moved from Housing to Foreign Affairs, with a special responsibility for Brexit and Northern Ireland.

"We face enormous challenges in foreign policy as relationships on this island and between these islands and across Europe change," said Mr Varadkar.

"I have given [Mr Coveney] the task of working towards re-establishing devolved government in Northern Ireland, securing the best possible deal for Ireland on Brexit, winning seats for Ireland on the UN Security Council and expanding our diplomatic and trade footprints overseas."

Mr Coveney will be replaced by new cabinet member Eoghan Murphy as Minsiter for Housing and Local Government.

The big winner is Paschal Donohoe, who is now among the strongest individuals in cabinet after being appointed to the Department of Finance in addition to his existing role as Public Expenditure Minister.

Charlie Flanagan will move from Foreign Affairs to Justice to take on one of the most crisis-hit roles in Government, while in another Simon Harris will remain in Health.

Michael Creed will also remain in his position as Agriculture Minister, as will Education Minister Richard Bruton - who was known to have coveted an economic briefing and be reluctant to move to Justice.

Former Government chief whip Regina Doherty will now head up the Department of Social Protection, with Heather Humphreys remaining in Arts, albeit with a re-vamped "Culture" Minister name.

Michael Ring has formally become a full cabinet member after being appointed to the new Rural Affairs portfolio.

Although all Independent ministers will remain in their roles, other changes include Joe McHugh who becomes Government chief whip in addition to his existing junior minister for the Gaeltacht role.

In addition, Mary Mitchell O'Connor has been demoted to a super junior minister role in Education.

While Mr Varadkar described his new cabinet as one which will get work done, it was only announced after an 80 minute delay, suggesting one or more ministers argued against taking up their now confirmed roles.

The new Cabinet: Pascal Donohoe to Finance, Coveney to Foreign Affairs

The full list of new position is as follows:

* Frances Fitzgerald - Tanaiste

* Seamus Woulfe - Proposed new attorney general

NEW CABINET:

Department of Enterprise & Innovation to: Frances Fitzgerald

Department of Finance and Department of Public Expenditure & Reform to: Paschal Donohoe

Department of Education & Skills to: Richard Bruton

Department of Foreign Affairs & Trade to: Simon Coveney

Department of Justice & Equality to: Charles Flanagan

A new Department of Culture to: Heather Humphreys

Department of Health to: Simon Harris

Department of Agriculture, Food & the Marine to: Michael Creed

Department of Communications, Climate Action & Environment to: Denis Naughten

Department of the Transport, Tourism & Sport to: Shane Ross

Department of Children & Youth Affairs to: Katherine Zappone

A new Department of Community & Rural Affairs to: Michael Ring

Department of Employment & Social Protection to: Regina Doherty

Department of Housing, Planning & Local Government to: Eoghan Murphy

SUPER JUNIOR MINISTERS:

Joe McHugh - Government Chief Whip and Minister of State at the Department of Culture with responsibility for Gaeilge, Gaeltacht and the Islands

Paul Kehoe - Minister of State at the Department of the Taoiseach and the Department of Defence with special responsibility for Defence

Finian McGrath - Minister of State at the Department of Social Protection, the Department of Justice & Equality, and the Department of Health with special responsibility for Disability Issues

Mary Mitchell O'Connor - Minister of State at the Department of Education with special responsibility for Higher Education

Update 8pm: Regina Doherty, Eoghan Murphy and Michael Ring will be given senior roles, while Mary Mitchell O'Connor is demoted, although retaining her spot at Cabinet.

Frances Fitzgerald is understood to remain as Tánaiste but will move to the Department of Jobs, while Charlie Flanagan goes to Justice, and Simon Coveney to Foreign Affairs.

Regina Doherty will be Minister for Social Protection, while Eoghan Murphy gets the task of being Minister for Housing.

Michael Ring is given a new role as minister for Rural and Regional Affairs, which is being split off from the Department of Arts led by Heather Humphreys.

Paschal Donohoe is set to take over at the Department of Finance, while also keeping his current position in Public Expenditure.

Update 7.51pm: Mary Mitchell O'Connor will be a super junior with responsibilities for equality and law reform.

Update 7.49pm: In addition to a number of leaked appointments, it is also emerging that Joe McHugh will become the new Government chief whip, writes Fiachra O'Cionnaith.

Mr McHugh will continue in his role as junior minister for the Gaeltacht.

In addition, Education Minister Richard Bruton is expected to stay in his current role, despite being strongly linked to the Justice portfolio in recent days.

Update 7.33pm: Foreign Affairs Minister Charlie Flanagan is set to be moved to the crisis-hit Justice portfolio as part of new Taoiseach Leo Varadkar's cabinet reshuffle, writes Fiachra O'Cionnaith.

The long-time TD's move is one of several surprise steps emerging, despite the fact Enda Kenny's outgoing cabinet personnel will remain largely intact.

The Irish Examiner understands Mr Flanagan will move to Justice, with existing Justice Minister Frances Fitzgerald moving to Enterprise.

Simon Coveney will move from Housing to Foreign Affairs, with his outgoing position taken up by Eoghan Murphy - who was widely tipped for the Jobs portfolio.

Mary Mitchell O Connor, the current Jobs Minister, is expected to take up a super junior position, while Paschal Donohoe will formally take up the still separate Finance and Public Expenditure positions.

Simon Harris will remain in Health, while Michael Creed will retain his position in Agriculture.

Current junior minister Michael Ring will also become a cabinet minister, potentially for a newly formed rural affairs portfolio, among a number of other changes.

The positions are due to be formally announced in the coming minutes by Mr Varadkar.

Update 7.05pm: Taoiseach Leo Varadkar has reappointed Michael Creed as Minister for Agriculture.

Minister for Foreign Affairs Charlie Flanagan is moving to Ministry of Justice.

It is also being reported Simon Coveney will replace Charlie Flanagan in Iveagh House.

Michael Ring is expected to be appointed as Minister for Rural Affairs with Simon Harris staying at the Department of Health.

Update 5.15pm: In a touching moment on the Leinster House plinth earlier as now former Taoiseach Enda Kenny walked to his car, he was swamped by a number of visitors to the Dáil who wanted to shake his hand.

By Fiachra Ó Cionnaith, Political Correspondent

Stopping for a number of minutes to pose for photographs with the mainly elderly group - with Sinn Féin leader Gerry Adams waiting quietly to one side to also shake his hand - Mr Kenny spoke briefly with the group before waiving goodbye from his garda-driven Government car.

"A gentleman," one of the group was overheard to say as he departed.

The new Cabinet: Pascal Donohoe to Finance, Coveney to Foreign Affairs

Earlier:

With the Dáil now in temporary hiatus until 6.30pm to allow for newly elected Taoiseach Leo Varadkar to be ratified by President Michael D Higgins, there is just one thing to keep everyone occupied... speculation.

And where better to hear the latest rumours than in those dark corridors of power where the walls don’t just have eyes, but ears and gossiping mouths, too.

We understand that, among key changes Mr Varadkar will impose, will be the significant "beefing up" of the Department of Foreign Affairs to include a more focussed Brexit brief.

This is expected to be announced by Mr Varadkar later this evening, and will tie in with the likely appointment of Simon Coveney as Foreign Affairs Minister and potential appointment of Eoghan Murphy to a super junior Brexit-focussed role.

In addition, it is also being speculated that outgoing attorney general Máire Whelan will be replaced by Fine Gael member and barrister Seamus Wolfe.

The Dublin Bay North official is known to be a close associate of Richard Bruton, which has led to a growing belief the Education Minister will be moved to the Justice portfolio - a position he is understood to not be fully in favour of taking on.

The new Cabinet: Pascal Donohoe to Finance, Coveney to Foreign Affairs

Among other growing rumours are:

* Frances Fitzgerald will remain as Tanaiste but move to Social Protection;

* Simon Coveney will move to Foreign Affairs;

* Simon Harris will remain in Health;

* Charlie Flanagan will remain in cabinet but not in Foreign Affairs;

* Eoghan Murphy will move from junior finance minister to a Brexit super junior minister role;

* Paschal Donohoe will take on both the Finance and Public Expenditure portfolios;

* Richard Bruton will move to Justice;

* Mary Mitchell O Connor may either remain in Jobs or move to Education;

* Regina Doherty may move to cabinet though she is in a two-horse race with Helen McEntee;

* If Ms Doherty does move, her current chief whip position may be filled by John Paul Phelan;

* all Independent ministers, as previously confirmed by all sides, are safe and will retain their positions;

* Current Arts Minister Heather Humphreys is increasingly rumoured for a significant Government promotion;

* Michael Creed will remain as Agriculture Minister;

* Michael Ring is expected to be promoted to a full cabinet position, possibly as rural affairs minister;

* Sean Kyne is also tipped to make it into cabinet.

As with all political speculation, of course, it is worth noting the qualified nature of all comments.

However, while they could still change in the short hours before Mr Varadkar announces his cabinet just after 6pm today - just ask Enda Kenny, who had planned to re-appoint Leo Varadkar to health last year before the now Taoiseach turned the offer down - it is increasingly likely the roles will be confirmed in the coming hours.

Let the rumour-mill games begin… 

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