Leo Varadkar to hold Tánaiste position with 'enhanced role' for Eamon Ryan

Leo Varadkar is set to be Tánaiste, according to a draft programme for government document, while he will also get a strengthened role in the coalition.
Leo Varadkar to hold Tánaiste position with 'enhanced role' for Eamon Ryan

Leo Varadkar is set to be Tánaiste, according to a draft programme for government document, while he will also get a strengthened role in the coalition.

There will be just two super juniors at Cabinet while the three leaders in the new coalition will form an inner circle to defuse rows and smooth out issues.

A wording for a section on how the new government will operate has been obtained by the Irish Examiner.

It specifically states that the position of An Tánaiste will be held by the leader of the largest party not holding the office of An Taoiseach. This means the role will initially fall to Mr Varadkar when Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin becomes Taoiseach.

The document also says there will be “an enhanced role for party leaders not holding the office of An Taoiseach”, suggesting that Greens leader Eamon Ryan's position will also be strengthened in government.

To avoid future rows, the three parties in the new coalition have agreed a “set of principles about how ongoing work and potential disagreements will be resolved”.

Each party leader will also be responsible for “nominating their own representatives” to each department and ministerial role.

There will only be two super juniors at Cabinet, the Irish Examiner can also reveal while the make-up of Cabinet for the three parties can be revealed:

The document adds:

“Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil will have an equal number of Government Ministers, six, and the Green Party will appoint three. The Chief Whip shall sit at Cabinet as shall two other Ministers of State.

“Ministers of State shall be appointed by the Government within one week of the Government being formed and shall be allocated as agreed by the three party leaders.”

A system of rotating the role of Taoiseach, as already flagged, has been agreed while leaders will also have the discretion of changing ministers halfway through the coalition's term. The document adds:

“The leader of Fianna Fáil will hold the office of An Taoiseach from that point until December 15th 2022 on which date he will offer his resignation to the President and all Parties and TDs supporting the Government will support the nomination of the leader of the Fine Gael Party.

“Membership of Government and the roles of ministers will be continued save where agreed in advance by Party Leaders.

“Each Party acknowledges that the leadership and ministerial nominations of their respective parties is entirely a matter for the Party concerned.”

It now looks like Mr Varadkar will, in his new role as Tánaiste, move closer to government as part of the new coalition. The draft document adds:

“In order to improve coordination and openness within Government, the Office of An Tánaiste will be re-established within the Department of An Taoiseach and based in Government Buildings.”

Crucially, the party leaders will operate an inner circle where disputes and issues of the week are expected to be ironed out. Some comparisons with the previous Fine Gael-Labour economic management council have been made. The document adds:

“A Government Coordination Cabinet Committee, comprising of the leaders of each party in Government, shall meet each week in advance of Cabinet, and on other occasions when deemed necessary”

In addressing surprise issues and rows, leaders Mr Martin, Mr Varadkar and Mr Ryan have pledged to do their best to resolve issues in the new coalition. The document concludes:

“We understand that it is the reality of government that situations arise which make partners in government uncomfortable and which have to be addressed in order to maintain confidence. We agree to adopt the approach of raising such concerns in confidence, as early as possible and in good faith, while at all times not going public to put pressure on partners.”

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