Simon Harris to be appointed Minister for Higher Education

Norma Foley to serve as Minister for Education

Outgoing Minister for Health Simon Harris is to be appointed Minister for Higher Education, Innovation and Research as Micheál Martin assigns new Cabinet positions today in Government Buildings. 

Fianna Fáil’s Norma Foley is to be appointed as the new Minister for Education, replacing outgoing Fine Gael minister Joe McHugh.

Today, the 33rd Dáil was elected 140 days after the general election, the longest it has taken for the formation of a government in the history of the Irish state.

Simon Harris is a Fine Gael politician who has served as Minister for Health since May 2016. He has been a Teachta Dála for the Wicklow constituency since 2011, and previously served as Minister of State for the Office of Public Works, Public Procurement and International Banking at the Department of Finance from 2014 to 2016.

Foley is a Fianna Fáil politician, who has been a Teachta Dála for the Kerry constituency since the 2020 general election in February. She previously served as a councillor in Tralee, and was the mayor of Kerry in 2018/2019. Foley is a teacher by profession and has worked at the Presentation Secondary School, Tralee.

Details of new plans in the incoming government emerged last week, with policies such as the elimination of direct provision, a citizens’ assembly on drug decriminalisation and free contraception for all among some the plans outlined in the programme for government approved by Fianna Fáil, Fine Gael and the Green Party.

Harris initially studied Journalism and French at the Dublin Institute of Technology (DIT), now Technology University Dublin (TU Dublin), before dropping out of his course to pursue politics full-time.

Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin was elected Taoiseach of the 33rd Dáil in the new coalition government between Fine Gael, Fianna Fáil and the Green Party in the Dáil’s first sitting at the Convention Centre in Dublin this morning. Outgoing Taoiseach Leo Varadkar is to serve as Tánaiste in the new coalition and is set to be reinstated as Taoiseach in December 2020. 

The new government is expected to maintain student contribution charges at their current level, as well looking to develop a “long-term sustainable funding model” for higher level education, according to the draft programme for government approved by the three parties.

The new programme makes commitments to reviewing Student Universal Support Ireland (SUSI) eligibility and adjacency rates and conducting an overall review of the SUSI scheme in the aftermath of Covid-19.

In May 2020, 1,500 Irish scientists called for a department specifically dedicated to higher education and research. Scientists claimed that this was to stop Ireland becoming a “backwater” in the area of science.

Fianna Fail’s Stephen Donnelly is the new Minister for Health, replacing Harris in the role.

Paschal Donohoe has been chosen as the new Minister for Finance, with his former role as Minister for Public Expenditure given to Michael McGrath. Barry Cowen will serve as Minister for Agriculture, and Helen McEntee will take the position of Minister for Justice. 

Darragh O’Brien will take the role of Minister for Housing, as Eamon Ryan will serve as Minister for Climate and Travel. Catherine Martin will take on the role of Minister of Arts and Culture and Roderic O’Gorman will be the next Minister for Equality and Children.

Shannon Connolly

Shannon Connolly is the Editor-in-Chief of the 69th volume Trinity News, and a Senior Sophister student of English Literature and Philosophy. She previously served as Deputy Editor, News Editor and Assistant News Editor.

Lauren Boland

Lauren Boland was the Editor of the 67th volume of Trinity News. She is an English Literature and Sociology graduate and previously served as Deputy Editor, News Editor and Assistant News Editor.