Tuesday 16 January 2018

Rights poll will be key task of Children's Minister

Michael Brennan Deputy Political Editor

ENDA Kenny appointed the first ever cabinet minister dedicated to children's rights in a major shake-up of government departments yesterday.

New Children's Minister Frances Fitzgerald will have the smallest staff of any full department -- the children's section in the Department of Health started off six years ago with just 20.

Her key task will be to get a new referendum on children's rights passed. The position used to be a "super junior" position-- which meant the minister had a right to attend cabinet meetings but not a right to vote.

The two departments which were recommended for abolition by "Bord Snip Nua" were both dismantled -- Community, Equality and Gaeltacht Affairs (CEGA) and Tourism, Culture and Sport.

The Community part has been given to new Environment Minister Phil Hogan.

Equality has been given back to the law-and-order mandarins in the Department of Justice, who are not noted for their interest in it.


Gaeltacht Affairs has been given to new Arts and Heritage Minister Jimmy Deenihan, who inherited some of the remnants of the Tourism, Culture and Sport Department.

Although Mr Deenihan is not a noted Irish speaker, the change will be a relief to those who feared Irish would lose its place at the cabinet table.

Sport goes to new Transport Minister Leo Varadkar who also gets the key area of Tourism.

The Department of Defence ceased to have its own minister for the first time in the State's history yesterday. It will continue to exist as a separate department but will be run by Justice and Defence Minister Alan Shatter.

Only four departments survived unchanged: Social Protection, Communications, Education and the Department of the Taoiseach.

The "super junior" position in the new cabinet went to Labour's Willie Penrose, who will be responsible for dealing with the legacy of thousands of ghost estates as Junior Minister for Housing and Planning. He will be entitled to attend cabinet meetings but not to vote on issues.

The Marine section to the Department of Transport will now be the responsibility of new Agriculture, Marine and Food Minister, Simon Coveney.

Irish Independent

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