Finance Minister and Public Expenditure Minister Paschal Donohoe is to move into the office occupied by his predecessor Michael Noonan.
Mr Donohoe began his first day in charge of the two departments by travelling to Luxembourg to attend a meeting of European finance ministers. He is to be briefed by his new officials tomorrow.
It is understood Mr Donohoe will be joined next week by two junior ministers, one operating in each department.
However, it is seen as significant that, while the two departments operated out of the same building, Mr Donohoe will move into Mr Noonan’s old office on the ground floor, with a rejoining of the two departments possible.
On foot of his decision to move office, Mr Donohoe’s current ministerial office will be freed up to accommodate the junior ministers or it could be used to house one of two secretaries general under his command.
Mr Donohoe has expressed his delight at being appointed to both ministries.
He tweeted it is the “greatest of privileges to lead the departments of @IRLDeptPER and @IRLDeptFinance. Will give my all”.
The Irish Examiner understands there was considerable resistance from senior civil servants — particularly in Public Expenditure — to any suggestion of the two finance departments merging.
Mr Noonan was seen in Leinster House yesterday, getting used to life as a back bencher after six years in office.
In Luxembourg, when asked about the AIB sale, Mr Donohoe said the time was appropriate to dispose of a portion of the State’s share in the bank.
“I am limited in what I can say by law. That progress is underway and is going well. The completion of that process is an important milestone in the development of the Irish economy. We have seen our economy now move into sustained growth,” he said. “We have seen a recovery take place within the Irish banking system and that is the reason the Irish Government have decided that it is appropriate to proceed with a disposal of a share of AIB.”
Mr Donohoe would not be drawn on whether the shares would be sold at the higher end of the range specified by the process.
“This is a matter which is being evaluated by the market. The key thing is we get a good support for the Irish taxpayer and this will mark an important milestone for the stability of the Irish banking system,” he said.
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