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Friday 29 August 2014

Key issues ministers must consider in new political set-up

Fionnan Sheahan

Published 08/07/2014 | 02:30

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Minister for Justice, Equality and Defence Frances Fitzgerald
Minister for Justice, Equality and Defence Frances Fitzgerald

Taoiseach Enda Kenny and Tanaiste Joan Burton are thrashing out the make-up of the Coalition through the reshuffle and the policies the Government will pursue to get it back on track.

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Here are the major items on the agenda of each minister in the revamped Government:

Taoiseach

* Regain the focus of the Government by identifying key policies to be implemented.

* Maintain stability within the Coalition.

* Outline an intended destination at the end of the next 18 months.

Tanaiste and Social Protection Minister

* Reassert Labour's identity in the Coalition.

* Steady the party ship and do succession planning for the future.

* Cut out the poverty traps preventing uptake of jobs by those on the dole.

Finance Minister

* Carefully target any tax cuts in the Budget.

* Get the balance right on the size of the adjustment.

* Keep chasing the EU bank debt deal.Public Expenditure

* Continue to drive public sector reform.

* Manage expectations on public sector pay.

* Get a grip on the troublesome departments in Budget estimates.

Foreign Affairs

* Get tightly involved in the growing crisis in Northern Ireland.

* Carefully watch the scrutiny of Ireland tax affairs and our international reputation.

* Examine the mix between diplomatic relations and economic importance of embassy locations.

Jobs Minister

* Maintain competitiveness as demands for wage rises escalate.

* Keep the Action Plan for Jobs going as it is delivering across government.

* Focus on lending to small business and development of homegrown enterprise.

Health Minister

* Get a handle on spending and implement Haddington Road.

* Regain confidence in the medical card allocation system.

* Make a decision on the future of Universal Health Insurance.

Education

* Take account of the value of keeping small schools open.

* Review the hostile relationship with the church.

* Make long-term plans on how to fund third-level, which is linked to enterprise.

Justice

* Restructure the department in the wake of the scandals.

* Initiate the planned Garda reforms.

* Prepare the ground for the gay marriage referendum.

Children

* Keep down the cost of childcare as it is inhibiting women in the workforce.

* Get a handle on the system for children in crisis.

* Continue to set a correct tone in responding to sex abuse reports.

Transport

* Maintain the vigilance in industrial relations across the sector.

* Keep a handle of cost to the consumer of public transport.

* Protect the tourism product from an image and cost perspective.

Environment

* Invest in housing and reform planning to allow fast-tracked changes.

* Follow through on the water charges implementation.

* Develop the powers of local government and property tax.

Communications

* Ensure liaison between industry and community on energy issues, like pylons.

* Bring in the broadcasting charge and decide its cost.

* Take steps to keep energy costs down for the consumer.

Agriculture

* Keep on top of the challenges from CAP and the end of milk quotas.

* Support the beef farming sector as it comes under pressure.

* Protect the brand and open new markets.

Arts, Heritage and Gaeltacht

* Set the correct tone around the 1916 commemorations.

* Link in with tourism and ensuring independence.

* Stick to commitments made on turf cutting.

Irish Independent

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