Heather Humphreys to replace Helen McEntee as justice minister while on maternity leave

Heather Humphreys to replace Helen McEntee as justice minister while on maternity leave

Justice Minister Helen McEntee will take six months fully paid maternity leave from April 30 and will remain as a Minister without Portfolio during that time. Picture: Sam Boal

Justice Minister Helen McEntee will take six months fully paid maternity leave from April 30 and will remain as Minister without Portfolio during that time, Taoiseach Micheal Martin has told the Dáil.

In a statement at lunchtime on Thursday, Mr Martin said the Government fully supports Ms McEntee’s desire to take  maternity leave and confirmed a mechanism has been arrived at.

The Dáil heard Social Protection Minister Heather Humphreys will assume the duties of Minister of Justice during the leave in addition to her current role.

TDs were told Ms McEntee will step back from her position as Minister for Justice on April 30, 2021, to take a period of maternity leave.

On that date, the Taoiseach will assign Ms McEntee as Minister without Portfolio, which means the Minister will remain a member of the Government.

Social Protection Minister Heather Humphreys will assume the duties of Minister of Justice  in addition to her current role. Picture: Colin Keegan, Collins Dublin
Social Protection Minister Heather Humphreys will assume the duties of Minister of Justice  in addition to her current role. Picture: Colin Keegan, Collins Dublin

The Taoiseach will assign Ms Humphreys to be Minister for Justice, in addition to her current responsibilities.

Ms McEntee, as Minister without Portfolio, will continue to be bound by her Constitutional responsibilities as a member of the Government.

While assigned as Minister without Portfolio, she will have no specific duties or responsibilities, or exercise any powers, in relation to the Department of Justice.

She will, however, in keeping with good practice during maternity leave, have the option of keeping in touch with Ms Humphreys on issues.

As Minister without Portfolio, Ms McEntee will be able to access all Government papers, and be kept updated on ongoing work in respect of her former role and across Government. However, the Minister without Portfolio would not commission work or take decisions in relation to the Department of Justice or the justice sector.

Minister of State Hildegarde Naughton will be temporarily assigned to the Department of Justice for the duration of Ms McEntee’s maternity leave and will be delegated responsibilities which will be proposed by Ms Humphreys and approved by Government in the normal way.

Ms Naughton’s position as Minister of State for Justice will be in addition to her current position and responsibilities as a Minister of State attending Cabinet.

Ms Humphreys will also delegate additional responsibilities to James Browne, the current Minister of State for Law Reform in the Department of Justice.

Hildegarde Naughton will be appointed Minister of State for Justice. Picture:Julien Behal Photography
Hildegarde Naughton will be appointed Minister of State for Justice. Picture:Julien Behal Photography

Ms Humphreys will have lead political responsibility for the Department of Justice, and in particular matters relating to security and policing. All commencement orders and statutory instruments will be submitted for approval and signature to Ms Humphreys, along with all security related matters.

Ms Humphreys will bring to Cabinet all proposed judicial appointments.

As Minister of State attending Cabinet, Ms Naughton will be appointed Minister of State for Justice, with responsibility for the courts and criminal justice legislation.

Ms Naughton will have responsibility for all proposed non-judicial appointments, along with annual reports from agencies and bodies in the criminal justice sector, and most legislation relating to the criminal justice sector, including responding to Private Members’ Bills. Ms Naughton will also be responsible for considering the recommendations of the Parole Board.

In addition to his previously agreed delegated functions, Mr Browne will temporarily take expanded responsibilities in relation to civil justice and immigration matters.

This will include annual reports from agencies and bodies in the civil justice sector, and most legislation relating to the civil justice sector, including responding to Private Member’s Bills.

All these temporary arrangements will cease on November 1, 2021, when Ms McEntee returns from maternity leave.

In her statement, Ms McEntee said: “Just as girls of my generation looked to the strong women who came before us for inspiration and guidance, those of us in politics now have a responsibility to make it easier for today’s girls to fulfil those dreams and ambitions.”

“I and my colleagues in Government are determined to change the current system for the next generation. I would particularly like to thank Minister Humphreys for agreeing to be Minister for Justice, as well as Minister of State Naughton for taking a significant proportion of work within the Department of Justice, during the period of my leave,” she said.

“While I am very thankful to all my colleagues for their help and co-operation in accommodating me, it is clear that the lack of provision for maternity, paternity and other types of leave for those in public life is an issue that needs a long-term solution. I look forward to working with colleagues across politics to bring about these much-needed changes.”

 

 

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