Who are the new junior ministers in Simon Harris’s Cabinet?

New roles given to Fine Gael members cover areas including finance, housing, public works and health

Taoiseach Simon Harris has reshuffled the ranks of junior ministers. Here are the politicians who got new roles in the shake-up.

Neale Richmond

Minister of State for Finance with responsibility for Financial Services, Credit Unions and Insurance

Dublin Rathdown TD Neale Richmond has been moved from his role as junior enterprise minister to a sought after role in the Department of Finance. First elected to Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown County Council in 2009 he became a Senator in 2016 after which he came to prominence due to his focus on Brexit, frequently appearing on British broadcast media to set out Ireland’s perspective.

A native of Ballinteer, rugby fan Richmond – who has played for the Oireachtas team – is a graduate of UCD. The 41-year-old was first elected to the Dáil in 2020 and was appointed to his previous role as Minister of State with responsibility for employment affairs and retail business in 2023.


Emer Higgins

Minister of State for Enterprise with responsibility for Business, Employment and Retail

Emer Higgins’s interest in politics began in her teens, continued in UCD where she was a member of the students’ union and she ended up working for former Fine Gael TD and minister Frances FitzGerald. She was co-opted on to South Dublin County Council in 2011 and subsequently elected as a councillor in 2014 and 2019.

Higgins was unsuccessful in a bid to take a Dáil seat in the 2019 Dublin Mid-West by-election but was elected in the general election in 2020. The 38-year-old has a background in the tech sector having worked as chief of staff of global operations with PayPal. She has been vocal on the need for social media companies to tackle online abuse.

Alan Dillon

Minister of State for Housing with responsibility for Local Government and Planning

First-term TD Alan Dillion has impressed during his time on the Dáil’s spending watchdog the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) as well as the Media Committee, particularly during their examination of the controversies surrounding RTÉ. The 41-year-old former Mayo football captain and two time All Star winner was appointed as Fine Gael’s parliamentary party chairman last October though he will relinquish the role now he has been promoted.

With third level qualifications in science he retired from inter-county football in 2017, going on to co-found Dillon Engineering Services, which works with the pharma and medical devices sectors. Dillon replaced former Taoiseach Enda Kenny on the party’s ticket in Mayo and was elected to the Dáil on his first attempt in 2020.

Kieran O’Donnell

Minister of State with responsibility for the Office of Public Works

In his most recent role as a minister of state for local government and planning Kieran O’Donnell (60) was heavily involved in shepherding the legislation to create a directly elected mayor in Limerick over the line in the Oireachtas. A nephew of the late Fine Gael TD Tom O’Donnell, he was first elected as a councillor in 2004 and won a Dáil seat three years later.

He was re-elected in 2011 but lost out in 2016. He was in the Seanad for four years before returning to the Dáil in 2020 when he was appointed O’Donnell was appointed chairman of the Oireachtas Committee on Transport. He was promoted to the junior minister job at the Department of Housing in former Taoiseach Leo Varadkar’s 2022 reshuffle.

Colm Burke

Minister of State for Health with responsibility for Public Health, Wellbeing and National Drugs Strategy

Colm Burke (67) has been a member of two high-profile committees – Health and the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) during the current Dáil and he will be well versed in the issues that will arise in his new job at the Department of Health.

A solicitor by training, he served as a substitute member of the European Parliament for the Ireland South constituency from 2007 to 2009 when then MEP Simon Coveney was re-elected to the Dáil. He was elected to the Seanad in 2011 and first elected to the Dáil for Cork North Central in 2020 having been unsuccessful in the 2019 by-election just three months previously.

Cormac McQuinn

Cormac McQuinn

Cormac McQuinn is a Political Correspondent at The Irish Times