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Sunday 22 January 2017

Taoiseach denies junior ministers are 'powerless'

Published 16/11/2016 | 02:30

The Taoiseach said he has “met regularly” with junior ministers since May “to receive updates on the progress they have made in implementing their programme for government policy priorities”. Photo: Colin O'Riordan
The Taoiseach said he has “met regularly” with junior ministers since May “to receive updates on the progress they have made in implementing their programme for government policy priorities”. Photo: Colin O'Riordan

Taoiseach Enda Kenny has denied that six of his junior ministers are "powerless" despite not being delegated specific authority by their senior counterparts.

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Mr Kenny has come under fire for appointing 18 ministers of state, including a record 15 from Fine Gael, to office.

The Irish Independent previously revealed how one third of them were not given any direct power by senior colleagues.

Leo Varadkar, Simon Coveney, Shane Ross, Michael Noonan and Paschal Donohoe are among the ministers maintaining full control over their departments.

In the Dáil yesterday, Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin accused the Taoiseach of backtracking on his commitment to give junior ministers "an enhanced role".

Ministers of State get a payment of €34,381 on top of their normal TD salary of €87,258, as well as an entitlement to hire a driver.

But Mr Kenny said: "I read a report recently to the effect that ministers of state were deemed to be powerless.

"As I pointed out to Deputy Martin, all ministers of state have responsibility. Some have been assigned by statutory delegation order and others have been allocated with responsibilities for particular areas."

The Taoiseach said he has "met regularly" with junior ministers since May "to receive updates on the progress they have made in implementing their programme for government policy priorities".

"It is a case of some people having statutory responsibilities designated to them and some having responsibilities assigned to them without a statutory declaration."

Mr Martin also criticised Independent Alliance Minister Sean Canney and his colleague Kevin 'Boxer' Moran for flipping a coin to decide who would become Minister of State with responsibility for the Office of Public Works.

"This has shed a bad light on the question of ministers of state and their appointment.

"Apparently, at committees the minister of state is shadowed by the deputy who will become the minister of state for the next year in order that the future minister of state can read himself into the job."

Irish Independent

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