Live updates: cabinet reshuffle

Taoiseach Brian Cowen is due to announce the make up of his new cabinet in Dáil Éireann at 15.40 today, and will deliver live updates throughout the afternoon as information becomes available.

Live updates

16.51: We're going to leave it there for the moment. To sum up, not the most innovative or creative of reshuffles, with the personnel remaining largely the same. Much of the opposition incredulity centred around the distribution of responsibility for Fás across three departments and Mary Harney maintaining her position as Minister of Health. Perhaps the biggest surprise is Eamon Ó Cuív's move to the newly styled Department of Social Protection, with Mary Hanafin moving to the Department of Arts, Sports and Tourism. Overall, it is difficult to see how this reshuffle can have any major impact. Thanks for watching!

16.50: Harney is defending her record as health minister, saying that there have been many positive changes. Her speech is interrupted by an incredulous Joan Burton, Labour's finance spokesperson.

16.45 MH: In everything the government is seeking to is to return this country to economic growth. [Internationally] the government is being lauded for the measures it has taken.

16.43: Minster of Health Mary Harney takes to the stage.

16.38: Bruton criticises Cowen for failing to live up to his commitments to public sector reform, one of his core proposals when he became Taoiseach two years ago.

16.37: Bruton says the government are "prisoners of a failed past". The rhetoric continues apace.

16.36 RB: You weren't competent in managing the economy...failed regulation destroyed our country. Public finances were mismanaged. People who issued warnings were told they should commit suicide.

16.35: Unsurprisingly, the Dáil is now all but empty.

16.34: Bruton baulks at Coughlan for saying "our young people are key", citing the huge amount of youth unemployment in the country at the moment.

16.33: Richard Bruton begins his address. Let's see if he can inject some urgency and incision to proceedings.

16.32: The addresses today have been peppered with the usual empty rhetoric, sabre ra

ttling and cherry picked figures. If you weren't around to hear today's Dáil session, be thankful.

16.30 MC: Our young people are key to our future progressing Ireland as the innovation island.

16.29 MC: Because of the difficult choices this government has made, Ireland is on the right path to recovery...we have made progress and we need to build on this.


;Tánaiste Mary Coughlan begins her address.

16.26 COC: For real transformation...national reunification is essential. We need a complete political clearout in this state. Neither of the two conservative parties, FF or FG, can provide...what we need.

16.25 COC: It is possible to beat youth unemployment with imaginative thinking...this has been totally absent from government is, as a previous speaker has said, nothing more than a clapped out administration.

16.20: "The government has no strategy to keep young people in the country," says Ó Caoláin, saying the cuts to social welfare were designed to force young people to emigrate.

16.18 COC: This reshuffle will preserve the economic approach of the FF/Green government which is fundamentally flawed...the FF/Green cuts to public services and public service pay have led to chaos in [the state].

16.16: Like Gilmore and Kenny, Ó Caoláin attacks Mary Harney's record in the Department of Health and Children and queries how she can be allowed to hold the office.

16.15 COC: If this cabinet reshuffle were accompanied by fundamental changes in government policy, I would have no hesitation in supporting it...there is no such change. [This cabinet] is set on the same course of disaster.

16.14 COC: In effect, we are being asked to a vote for a sham here today...we will not endorse this charade of a government which instead of this partial reshuffle should be shuffling out of office.

t;strong>16.13: Sinn Féin's Caoimhín Ó Caoláin begins his address.

16.12 JG: It is now recognised internationally that Ireland is tackling [it's] problems.

16.11: Gormley says Ciaran Cuffe will bring "passion and commitment" to his junior ministerial role.

16.10 JG: Creating jobs will bring us out of recession...that's what this government is about. I hope [the opposition] will have the guts to take the hard decisions, but frankly I don't see it.

16.08: Gormley criticises Leo Varadkar for his reaction to Trevor Sargent's resignation, asking him to stop the "adversarial politics" and pay tribute to Sargent.

16.06: Gormley wishes both O'Dea and Cullen well, and says his party will continue to work towards the regeneration of Limerick.

16.04 John Gormley, leader of the Green Party: This government has made the toughest decisions in the history of the state.

16.00 EG: What we have been offered here today is not change... it is the same old, same old.

15:57 EG: Why is Minister Harney still Minister for Health? By any standards she should be moved from that department. Her record has been hopeless. Since 2007 we have had a series of scandals in healthcare. Even her privatasion answer to the country's health deficiencies has collapsed.

15:56 EG: Since 2004 tax revenues have fallen 34%

15:54 EG: Government doesn't have a plan to create new jobs.. it is waiting to hop on the coattails of a Euroean recovery

15:52 EG: 340 people have lost their jobs every day since Brian Cowen became Taoiseach. 5 firms "gone bust" every day in February

15:50 EG: This exercise is about the survival of Fianna Fáil in government for more time than the country can afford.. this government has no mandate

15:49 EG: "Country needs a fresh start, not just a reconfiguration of what we have already"

15:48 Eamon Gilmore: "Tired, out of touch, out of ideas, out of time government"

15:45 A parliamentary delegation from the Ukraine is being subjected to the bickering

15:44 Enda Kenny continues to trot out predictible cliches about new cabinet being "a rag upon a stick" and government's "time being doomed"

15:42 EK: NAMA will bring "serious constriction on the construction sector"

15:40: Dan Boyle (on RTE) New alignment of departments creates a "new synergy"

15:35 EK: Brian Cowen has asked the Dail to "give the same team more time to do more damage... This is not a new cabinet... "

15:34 EK criticises decision to keep Mary Harney in Dept of Health

15:34 EK: Tainiste has been shifted "downwards"

15:33 Responsibility for FAS now split between three departments, says Enda Kenny

15:32 Enda Kenny: Brian Cowen's reshuffle "misses the point completely" and has created a "mish-mash" of responsibilities.

15:30 Mary Coughlan and Dept of Education charged with workforce training and retraining

15:28 Dara Colleary appointed as Junior Minister (Dept of Taoiseach - Labour Affairs)

15:20: The Greens: Ciaran Cuffe and Mary White of the Green Party are appointed as Junior Ministers

15:17 Brian Cowen has announced the following reassignments:

Mary Coughlan to the Dept. of Education and Skills (renamed);

Mary Hanafin to Dept. of Arts Sports and Tourism;

Eamon O'Cuiv to the Dept. of Social and Family Affairs;

Batt O'Keeffe to the Dept. of Enterprise Trade and Innovation (renamed).

Pat Carey has been appointed to the Department of Community, Equality and Gaeltacht Affairs (renamed). Tony Killeen has been appointed to the Dept. of Defence. John Curran has been appointed as Chief Whip.

14.58: Opposition delaying announcement by forcing votes on amendments. Updates will be delivered as more tangible developments take place.

14.54: Predictably, FG motion to amend procedure defeated 80-71.

14.42: "There are real harrowing issues that need to be addressed...what the Taoiseach is proposing is that we ignore all of that," says Sinn Féin's Caoimhin Ó Caoláin. "That is simply not good enough."

14.40: Opposition leaders Enda Kenny and Eamonn Gilmore have both criticised the amount of time allowed to them to debate the reshuffle, as well as other issues such as the current passport crisis. Gilmore criticised the government for moving forward the vote on the reshuffle from 19.00 to 18.00, calling it a public relations stunt.

14.34: The Ceann Comhairle has opened the session, the first after the St. Patricks week break.

14.28: Dáil session due to commence in a few minutes. According to reports, the reshuffle is expected to be more wide ranging than previously thought. News outlets were predicting a "safe" reshuffle at the weekend but there is expected to be more significant changes than previously thought.

14.10: A number of other ministers are on the move from their departments, announces Newstalk. According to Newstalk, Cowen has decided on ministerial "musical chairs" where Batt O'Keeffe will move from Education and Mary Hanafin will move from Social and Family Affairs to a "non-economic portfolio". Newstalk reported that Hanafin was "upset" at the news.

14.03: Cowen is now expected to announce his new ministerial team at 15.00, with the vote on the new appointments due to take place at 18.00.

13.58: Minister for Justice Dermot Ahern has echoed Taoiseach Brian Cowen in saying there are no problems between the Greens and FF. "I don't think there were any issues with us," said Ahern. "The Greens have their own issues; we are working well with the Greens."

13.40: RTE News announce that Clare based TD Tony Killeen and Dublin based chief whip Pat Carey look the most likely candidates to take the two vacant ministerial positions. John Curran is expected to replace Pat Carey as chief whip. Tánaiste Mary Coughlan is expected to retain her position of Tánaiste but move to a new department. Finally, Seán Connick is expected to gain promotion to a junior ministerial position.

13.30: Many column inches have been devoted to speculation regarding the details of the cabinet reshuffle. Will a new Department of Economic Planning form a central part of Cowen's announcement, as the Sunday Tribune and Irish Independent have speculated in recent days? Or has opposition from the Department of Finance, as reported in the Irish Times t

oday, scuppered that idea?

What about the future of the Departments of Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs and Arts, Sports and Tourism? The Tribune and Independent expect some form of merger between the two, with a new Department of Trade and Tourism, under Tánaiste Mary Coughlan, possibly in the offing.

As regards personnel, speculation has centred around whether Cowen will opt for regional representation in cabinet to replace former Ministers Martin Cullen and Willie O'Dea, or whether he will opt for experience and competence.

Junior minister and Tipperary South TD Martin Mansergh could offer a balance between the two

ext/javascript"> should Cowen opt to promote him to a senior ministry. Other names mooted for promotion are Conor Lenihan, Tony Killeen, Dara Calleary and chief whip Pat Carey.

The resignations of O'Dea and Cullen could offer Minister of Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs Éamon Ó Cuív a reprieve. Ó Cuív is not considered a Cowen loyalist and would have been a strong contender for demotion prior to the resignations. However, concerns regarding regional representation may grant him a stay of execution; the Tribune, for its part, expects Ó Cuív to survive.

However, nothing is certain. Closest to certainty is that Green Party deputies Mary White and Ciarán Cuffe will take up junior ministerial positions following the reshuffle. Beyond that, it remains to be seen exactly what will happen. Stay with throughout the afternoon for continued updates. Today's Dáil session is due to commence at 14.30.