Departments of State


There are 17 Government departments. Each department is headed by a minister appointed by the Taoiseach. You can get a list of Government Ministers and Ministers of State. Proposed changes in the names and responsibilities of some departments were announced in June 2017. These changes have all now been implemented.

Each department has a permanent staff that remains in office regardless of changes in Government. The departments' staff are described as the civil service.

If you have a complaint about a decision or action of a Government department or a public body and have exhausted their internal complaints process, you may contact the Ombudsman.

  • Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine: This Department regulates the agriculture and food industries.
  • Department of Business, Enterprise and Innovation: This Department is responsible for the promotion and development of enterprise, employment and for the regulation of businesses.
  • Department of Children and Youth Affairs: This Department is responsible for the development of harmonised policies and quality integrated service delivery for children and young people. It carries out specific functions in the social care field and drives coordinated actions across a range of sectors, including health, education, youth justice, sport, arts and culture.
  • Department of Communications, Climate Action and Environment: This Department has responsibility for the telecommunications and broadcasting sectors. It promotes the development of a competitive energy supply industry and is responsible for ensuring the security and reliability of energy supply. It also regulates, protects and develops the inland fisheries and natural resources of Ireland. The Geological Survey of Ireland is linked to this Department.
  • Department of Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht: This Department promotes and protects Ireland’s heritage and culture. It also advances the use of the Irish language, supports the sustainable development of the islands and develops cultural tourism.
  • Department of Defence: This Department manages and controls the defence forces.
  • Department of Education and Skills: This Department is responsible for providing public education at primary and post-primary levels. It also manages State subsidies for universities and third-level colleges. It also has responsibility for training and the work of the Expert Group on Future Skills Needs.
  • Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection: This Department provides income and other support services. It has responsibility for the provision of employment support, guidance and placement services as well as community services and the Rural Social Scheme. It is also responsible for the payment of redundancy and insolvency payments. In 2017, it took on several functions from the former Department of Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation. These functions mainly relate to employment policy and labour law.
  • Department of Finance: This Department is concerned with the economic and financial management of the State.
  • Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade: This Department promotes and protects our interests abroad. It pursues peace and reconciliation on the island of Ireland. It is also responsible for foreign trade and development.
  • Department of Health: This Department is responsible for development of health policy and the planning of health services. Health services are provided by the Health Service Executive (HSE).
  • Department of Housing, Planning and Local Government: This Department has functions relating to housing and it promotes development. It oversees the local authorities.
  • Department of Justice and Equality: This Department aims to protect the security of the State, to prevent and tackle crime and to protect individuals' rights and freedoms. It also deals with immigration.
  • Department of Public Expenditure and Reform: This Department advises the Government on the overall management and control of the public sector.
  • Department of Rural and Community Development: This Department was set up in July 2017. It is responsible for policy and supports in respect of community and rural development. It has taken on functions in relation to the charities sector, formerly the responsibility of the Department of Justice and Equality.
  • Department of the Taoiseach: This Department provides administrative and research support services to the Taoiseach and the Government.
  • Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport: This Department is responsible for roads (other than local roads), driver testing, traffic issues, bus and rail transport, aviation policy, and road safety. It is also responsible for the growth of sustainable tourism and it promotes sport at local, regional, and national levels.

Page edited: 6 September 2017