The planned resignation of Micheál Martin TD as Taoiseach on 17 December 2022 allowed for an orderly handover of power to returning Taoiseach, Leo Varadkar TD as the tri-party coalition entered the second half of its five-year term.
The handover from Martin to Varadkar marked the beginning of the second half of the landmark agreement between Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael that has, with the Green Party also involved, seen the dichotomy of Civil War party politics firmly consigned to the past. Having already signalled the beginning of the end of such divisions via the confidence and supply agreement that had guaranteed the Fine Gael minority government following the 2016 general election, the coalition deal agreed following the 2020 general election saw the final nail driven into that coffin.
The reshuffle had been delayed by two days from the original planned date of 15 December 2022 in order to allow Martin to travel to a European Council meeting as Taoiseach. Two days later, the handover was completed and Varadkar was returned for a second term as Taoiseach. This move marked the first instance of rotating Taoiseach in the history of the State, and the inauguration of the 33rd Government of Ireland, the second government of the 33rd Dáil. An important grammatical idiosyncrasy to note is that Martin and Varadkar should be referred to as rotating Taoiseach rather than Taoisigh; the word Taoiseach is of course an Irish language term, and in the Irish language, plural usage does not begin until the third of a group, meaning that if Eamon Ryan TD had been included in this power sharing pact, rotating Taoisigh would apply.
The 33rd Government contains 15 ministers, including one Minister without portfolio, with Helen McEntee TD assigned as such pending her re-appointment as Minister for Justice upon her return from maternity leave in summer 2023. Eight of the ministers have remained in their previous roles, a figure that will rise to nine when McEntee returns. The split of ministers along party lines remains as it was in the previous government: six Fine Gael, six Fianna Fáil, and three Green Party. Eight ministers of state each were named from Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil, with four from the Green Party joining them. Having been in office less than one month, the Government was forced to replace one of those ministers of state, Fine Gael’s Damien English TD, following his resignation. He was replaced by Neale Richmond TD. Three of the ministers of state, one from each party, are in attendance at cabinet: Hildegarde Naughton TD, Jack Chambers TD, and Senator Pippa Hackett.
Leo Varadkar TD
Dublin-born Leo Varadkar TD was elected to the Dáil on his first attempt in 2007 and has been returned in every subsequent election. Having served as Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment in the first half of the Government’s term, he has now returned for a second term as Taoiseach. He has previously served as Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport, Minister for Defence, Minister for Health, and Minister for Social Protection. He was elected leader of Fine Gael in 2017.
Minister for the Environment, Climate and Communications and Minister for Transport
Eamon Ryan TD
Eamon Ryan TD was first elected in 2002, before losing his seat in 2011 and reclaiming it in 2016. The Cabinet reshuffle has seen him retain both of his portfolios; he has in the past held a similar portfolio as Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources. He was elected leader of the Green Party in 2011.
Minister for Public Expenditure, National Development Plan Delivery and Reform
Paschal Donohoe TD
Having swapped jobs with McGrath, Paschal Donohoe TD’s role was extended upon the 1 February 2023 announcement that his department was to be renamed the Department of Public Expenditure, National Development Plan Delivery and Reform. The Fine Gael TD was first elected in 2011 and has previously served in his current role under the title Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform, as Minister for Finance, Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport, and Minister for European Affairs.
Tánaiste, Minister for Foreign Affairs, and Minister for Defence
Micheál Martin TD
Cork’s Micheál Martin TD was first elected to the Dáil in 1989 and was elected as leader of Fianna Fáil in 2011. Having served as Taoiseach in the first half of the Government’s term, he now takes up positions as Tánaiste and Minister for Defence and returns to his previously-held role of Minister for Foreign Affairs. He has also served as Minister for Education, Minister for Health, and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment in the past.
Minister for Finance
Michael McGrath TD
The Cabinet reshuffle saw Fianna Fáil’s Michael McGrath TD swapping roles with Fine Gael’s Paschal Donohoe TD. Having served as Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform, the Cork native will continue to work in tandem with Donohoe as Minister for Finance. He was first elected to the Dáil in 2007.
Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment
Simon Coveney TD
Fine Gael’s Simon Coveney TD was first elected as a TD in 1998 and has previously also served as a Member of European Parliament from 2004 to 2007. Having served the first half of the Government’s term as Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade and Minister of Defence, Coveney retains a role in trade governance in his new role. The Corkonian has also previously held the roles of Tánaiste, Minister for Agriculture, Marine and Food, Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government, and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade with responsibility for Brexit.
Minister for Education
Norma Foley TD
Kerry native Norma Foley TD retained her position as Minister for Education following the Cabinet reshuffle, meaning that the Minister has held a ministerial portfolio for the entirety of her tenure as a TD following her election in 2020. She is a member of Fianna Fáil.
Minister for Housing, Local Government and Heritage
Darragh O’Brien TD
Another minister who has retained his portfolio, Fianna Fáil’s Darragh O’Brien TD was first elected to the Dáil in 2007, before losing his seat in 2011. Having been elected to the Seanad, he served as his party’s leader in the chamber from 2011 to 2016, when he was re-elected to the Dáil.
Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine
Charlie McConalogue TD
Charlie McConalogue TD is the Cabinet’s northernmost minister, hailing from Gleneely in Donegal’s Inishowen peninsula. First elected as a TD in 2011, he took office as Minster for Agriculture, Food and the Marine in 2020 following the resignation of Dara Calleary TD and has retained his portfolio. The Fianna Fáil man previously served as Minister of State for with responsibility for Law Reform.
Minister for Health
Stephen Donnelly TD
Fianna Fáil’s Stephen Donnelly TD was first elected as an independent TD in 2011. He then joined the Social Democrats in 2015 and left the party the next year, returning to independent status until he joined Fianna Fáil in 2017. He has retained his portfolio as Minister for Health, his first ministerial portfolio.
Minister for Tourism, Culture, Arts, Gaeltacht, Sport and Media
Catherine Martin TD
Green Party deputy leader Martin is another of the ministers who has retained their position despite the reshuffle. The Monaghan native represents the Dublin Rathdown constituency and was first elected as a TD in 2016.
Minister for Social Protection and Minister for Rural and Community Development
Heather Humphreys TD
First elected to the Dáil in 2011, Fine Gael’s Heather Humphreys TD has also retained both of her portfolios. She has previously served as Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht, Minister for Arts, Heritage, Regional, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs, and Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation, and stood in as Minister for Justice in Helen McEntee’s absence prior to the reshuffle.
Minister for Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth
Roderic O’Gorman TD
First elected to the Dáil in 2020, the Green Party’s Roderic O’Gorman TD retains his portfolio, meaning that, like Norma Foley TD, he has spent his entire tenure as a TD thus far at cabinet. O’Gorman has previously served on Fingal County Council, to which he was first elected in 2014.
Minister without portfolio
Helen McEntee TD
Helen McEntee TD is currently on maternity leave and is expected to return to cabinet in summer 2023, at which point she will resume her role as Minister for Justice. First elected in a 2013 byelection, she has previously served as Minister of State for Mental Health and Older People and Minister of State for EU Affairs.
Minister for Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science and Minister for Justice
Simon Harris TD
Simon Harris TD was first elected to the Dáil in 2011. As well as retaining his ministerial portfolio, he has temporarily taken over the justice portfolio of his Fine Gael colleague Helen McEntee TD during her maternity leave. He has previously served as Minister for Health and as Minister of State in the Department of Finance, the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform, and the Department of the Taoiseach.
Ministers of state
• Minister of State at the Department of the Taoiseach as Government Chief Whip; and the Department of Health with responsibility for Public Health, Wellbeing and the National Drugs Strategy: Hildegarde Naughton TD
• Minister of State at the Department of Transport with responsibility for International and Road Transport and Logistics; and the Department of the Environment, Climate and Communications with responsibility for Postal Policy: Jack Chambers TD
• Minister of State at the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine with responsibility for Land Use and Biodiversity: Senator Pippa Hackett
• Minister of State at the departments of the Taoiseach, Foreign Affairs, and Defence with responsibility for European Affairs: Peter Burke TD
• Minister of State at the Department of Public Expenditure, National Development Plan Delivery and Reform with responsibility for the Office of Public Works; and the Department of Tourism, Culture, Arts, Gaeltacht, Sport and Media with responsibility for the Gaeltacht: Patrick O’Donovan TD
• Minister of State at the Department of Public Expenditure, National Development Plan Delivery and Reform with responsibility for Public Procurement and eGovernment; and the Department of Environment, Climate and Communications with responsibility for Communications and the Circular Economy: Ossian Smyth TD
• Minister of State at the Department of Finance with responsibility for Financial Services, Credit Unions and Insurance: Jennifer Carroll MacNeill TD
• Minister of State at the Department of Education with responsibility for Special Education and Inclusion:
Josepha Madigan TD
• Minister of State at the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine with responsibility for Research and Development, Farm Safety and New Market Development: Martin Heydon TD
• Minister of State at the departments of Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth, and Health with responsibility for Disability: Anne Rabbitte TD
• Minister of State at the Department of Foreign Affairs with responsibility for International Development and Diaspora: Seán Fleming TD
• Minister of State at the Department of Justice with responsibility for Law Reform and Youth Justice:
James Browne TD
• Minister of State at the Department of Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science with responsibility for Skills and Further Education: Niall Collins TD
• Minister of State at the Department of Rural and Community Development with responsibility for Community Development and Charities; and the Departments of Social Protection and Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth with responsibility for Integration: Joe O’Brien TD
• Minister of State at the Department of Housing, Local Government and Heritage with responsibility for Local Government and Planning: Kieran O’Donnell TD
• Minister of State at the Department of Housing, Local Government and Heritage with responsibility for Heritage and Electoral Reform: Malcolm Noonan TD
• Minister of State at the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment with responsibility for Trade Promotion and Digital Transformation: Dara Calleary TD
• Minister of State at the departments of Enterprise, Trade and Employment, and Social Protection with responsibility for Employment Affairs and Retail Business: Neale Richmond TD
• Minister of State at the Department of Health with responsibility for Mental Health and Older People: Mary Butler TD
• Minister of State at the Department of Tourism, Culture, Arts, Gaeltacht, Sport and Media with responsibility for Sport and Physical Education: Thomas Byrne TD