Belfast Telegraph

Monday 1 September 2014

Taoiseach takes power and a pay cut

The new Taoiseach Enda Kenny (front right) with his new top table during the first Cabinet meeting

Ireland's newly elected Government has made its first move towards reform by cutting its own pay.

Taoiseach Enda Kenny chaired his first Cabinet meeting at Aras an Uachtarain after his new team of ministers received their seals of office from President Mary McAleese.

The coalition Government announced it had reduced the Taoiseach's pay by 6.6% from 214,187 euro (£183,783) to 200,000 (£171,597), while Tanaiste (deputy prime minister) Eamon Gilmore will earn 184,405 euro (£158,227). Ministers' pay is down to 169,275 (£145,250) and the yet unnamed Ministers of State will earn 130,042 (£111,585).

Earlier Mr Kenny unveiled a number of shock Cabinet posts after being officially sworn in as the country's new Taoiseach.

The Fine Gael leader revealed Labour's Brendan Howlin will take on the newly-created role of Public Expenditure and Reform Minister. Mr Howlin, a veteran parliamentarian with past ministerial experience, will be charged with inflicting crushing austerity measures and axing 25,000 public jobs the coalition government signed up to over the next two years.

The post was created with the splitting of the finance portfolio into two, with Fine Gael's Michael Noonan taking on the mantle of Finance Minister, with responsibility for budgets and taxes.

Labour leader Mr Gilmore was also handed the new beefed-up Foreign Affairs and Trade portfolio.

His party's deputy leader and finance spokeswoman Joan Burton - an outspoken critic of the previous Fianna Fail/Green administration's economic direction - was widely tipped to take the public expenditure and reform post. But instead she has been appointed to what some will see as a lower ranking Cabinet position as Social Protection Minister, although she will take control of one of the largest budgets in the Cabinet.

Fine Gael's Alan Shatter was assigned the newly amalgamated role of Justice, Equality and Defence Minister. Eyebrows were also raised that only two women made it onto the top table, including Ms Burton and the newly-elevated full Cabinet post of Minister for Children, handed to Fine Gael's experienced Frances Fitzgerald.

Fine Gael's Leo Varadkar - at 32, the youngest government minister - was selected as Transport, Tourism and Sport Minister, a merger of a number of separate departments.

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