1. The homeless crisis is listed in the Programme for Government along side Health as the biggest challenge facing the country. The number of homeless people continues to rise so Mr Coveney will have to reverse this trend quickly.
2. Legislation suspending water charges is due within eight weeks and the issue of water will be back on the Dáil agenda in nine months with Mr Coveney fighting the unpopular battle for their retention.
3. Keeping tabs on NAMA will be a massive job for the incoming minister. The body is due to deliver 20,000 residential units by 2020.
New Jobs Minister Mary Mitchell-O'Connor Photo: Tom Burke
1. The new minister has a target of delivering 200,000 jobs by 2020, including 135,000 outside Dublin.
2. The Government wants to bring the unemployment rate to 6pc, while simultaneously
facilitating the return of 70,000 emigrants.
3. An extra €300m is being provided between Enterprise Ireland and Údarás na Gaeltachta to support Irish owned enterprises. And an extra €200m is available for the IDA to attract multinational jobs to regional town. There will be big pressure on the minister to deliver.
1. Junior Cert Reform: Members of the ASTI are resisting changes to the junior cert with a wave of one-day strikes at close to 500 schools looming from September.
2. Third level institutions are seriously underfunded but the Expert Group on Future Funding of Higher Education has plenty of suggestions for the minister to consider, including a loan scheme to allow for higher fees.
3. The Catholic Church still has a hold over the vast majority of schools but there is a growing demand for non-denominational schools which the minister will have to deal with.
Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade Charlie Flanagan
1. ‘Affordable childcare’ has become a political buzzword but non government has actually delivered it. This will be a big area for the new minister to focus.
2. Child poverty levels rose significantly during the recession with as many as one in eight children experiencing material deprivation on a daily basis.
3. Almost one in four children on the island of Ireland are carrying excess weight and obesity is costing the State tens of millions every year. Along with the Health Minister, Katherine Zappone will have to tackle this issue.
Minister for Agriculture, Food and Marine Michael Creed
1. Top of the agenda will be farm prices. The Irish Farmers’ Association, Irish Creamery and Milk Suppliers’ Association and the Irish Cattle and Sheep Farmers’ Association will all be queueing up at the door of Ag House. Milk prices are in the doldrums, while tillage farmers are below the cost of production and recent weeks have seen €10-€15 wiped off a head of lamb.
2. Another issue that has been simmering away is the fractious debate over the beef price grid. Farmers have been calling for a review of the way cattle are priced in factory, as they allege it is currently weighted heavily in the interests of the factories. The new minister will be charged with chairing the Beef Forum where it is a hot topic.
3. Brexit is also an issue that may hit agriculture hard, with Teagasc warning Brexit could mean a reduction in the value of Irish agri-food exports of anything from €150m or 1.5pc to €800m or over 7pc per annum. The continuing trade talks over TTIP and Mercosur will also raise agri-concerns.
Minister for Regional Development, Rural Affairs , Arts and the Gaeltact Heather Humphreys
1. Broadband must be delivered to almost every home in the country by 2022. This will be the biggest responsibility on Heather Humphrey’s plate.
2. The Programme for Government promises a rural revival after years of decline. This includes a focus on local services, roads and tourism, all of which must come to fruition or some of the Independents backing the Government will quit.
3. The 1916 commemorations are still under the remit of Ms Humphreys.
Minister for Communications, Climate Change and Natural Resources Denis Naughten
Minister for Communications, Climate Change and Natural Resources Denis Naughten Photo: Tom Burke
1. The minister will have to oversee environmental policy that will chart a course towards a low carbon future. In the coming months the Oireachtas must agree Ireland’s first statutory National Low Carbon Transition and Mitigation Plan.
2. Much of rural Ireland feels it is not being listened to on issues such as setback distances for wind farms. The new minister will need to gain community support for new forms of energy generation.
3. Communications is also responsible for overseeing the media in Ireland, which is becoming ever more complicated as digital media grows.