Ministers and Government departments
Each minister of the Government is responsible for running and managing the department they have been allocated. There are 18 government departments. As well as the Cabinet minister assigned to the department, The Taoiseach may also appoint junior ministers, or Ministers of State to help run departments.
Each department employs a large number of civil servants, including a Secretary General, who remain in their positions regardless of changes in the Government. These officials advise and assist the minister in the running of the department.
You can find out about government spending in each of these departments on whereyourmoneygoes.gov.ie. You can also read about the responsibilities of the people who manage government departments on whodoeswhat.gov.ie.
What do government ministers do?
The minister is responsible for their department and the Taoiseach can remove a minister at any time. Ministers are part of the Government and sit at cabinet meetings, where decisions about government policy and proposals for new Government bills are decided.
The minister may suggest and propose new or amended legislation to the Government relating to matters that arise in their department.
Ministers also have a power to make Statutory Instruments which are also known as delegated or secondary legislation. A Minister may only make a Statutory Instrument if they are permitted to do so in primary legislation. For example, the Immigration Act 2004 gives the Minister for Justice the power to make an order adding or removing a country from the list of countries whose citizens need a visa to enter Ireland.
You can view all Irish Government legislation from 1922 onwards.
Departments and services
There are 18 government departments. Each department is controlled by a minister of state.
Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine
- Regulates the agriculture and marine sectors.
- Operates schemes and delivers supports to people who work in these sectors.
- Maintains a register of food business operators.
- Runs the Green, Low-Carbon, Agri-Environment Scheme (GLAS).
- Operates the Forest Service and issues forest licences.
- Controls the entrance to Ireland of animals.
You can read more about the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine on its website.
Department of Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth
- Responsible for the Child and Family Agency (TUSLA), which oversees child welfare in Ireland.
- Operates the Early Childhood Care and Education Programme (ECCE) and the National Childcare Scheme
- Funds local Family Resource Centres
- Operates the Irish Youth Justice Service
You can read more about the Department of Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth on its website.
Department of Defence
- Responsible for the Irish Army, Air Corps and Navy
- Responsible for the Civil Defence
- Runs the Office of Emergency Planning
Department of Education
- Responsible for education policy in Ireland
- Operates the Higher Education Authority
- Operates the State Examinations Commission
- Operates the Teaching Council
- Operates Solas
You can read more about the Department of Education on its website.
Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment
- Promotes investment in Ireland through the IDA
- Supports businesses through grants and funding
- Assesses applications for employment permits
You can read more about the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment on its website.
Department of Environment, Climate and Communications
- Responsible for the Government’s plans to tackle climate change
- Responsible for postal services and Eircodes
- Oversees home energy grants through the Sustainable Energy Authority of Irleand
- Licences and regulates industry through the Environmental Protection Agency
You can read more about the Department of Environment, Climate and Communications on its website.
Department of Finance
- Sets the annual budget
- Oversees the Revenue Commissioner
- Oversees the State’s shareholdings in financial services
You can read more about the Department of Finance on its website.
Department of Foreign Affairs
- Promotes Ireland internationally
- Runs Irish consulates and embassies abroad
- Oversees the Passport Service
- Provides consular services for Irish people living abroad
You can read more about the Department of Foreign Affairs on its website.
Department of Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science
- Responsible for further education policy and funding
- Oversees the recognition of foreign qualifications
You can read more about the Department of Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science on its website.
Department of Health
- Responsible for health policy in Ireland
- Funds the HSE
- Promotes healthier lifestyles and policies to improve the health of people in Ireland
- Issues Medical Cards and GP visit cards through the HSE
You can read more about the Department of Health on its website.
Department of Housing, Local Government and Heritage
- Oversees the Residential Tenancies Board
- Oversees local government
- Responsible for public housing policy
You can read more about the Department of Housing, Local Government and Heritage on its website.
Department of Justice
- Oversees the Courts Service
- Oversees Immigration Service Delivery and the International Protection Office
- Responsible for national security and intelligence
You can read more about the Department of Justice on its website.
Department of Public Expenditure and Reform
- Oversees government spending
- Promotes reform across the civil and public service
- Co-ordinates the Office of the Government Chief Information Officer (OGCIO) which has responsibility for the government’s digital services
You can read more about the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform on its website.
Department of Rural and Community Development
- Oversees a range of programmes intended to promote social integration and sustainable community development
- Bodies overseen by the Department include Irish Water, Pobal, and the Charities Regulator
You can read more about the Department of Rural and Community Development on its website.
Department of Social Protection
- Provides income supports, such as Jobseeker’s Benefit and Illness Benefit
- Operates employment support services, such as the Community Employment programme and Tús
- Investigates fraud and abuse in the social protection system
You can read more about the Department of Social Protection on its website.
Department of the Taoiseach
- Works with other government departments to implement policy, primarily through the cabinet committee structure
- Responsible for liaising with the President and the Houses of the Oireachtas on behalf of the government
You can read more about the Department of the Taoiseach on its website.
Department of Tourism, Culture, Arts, Gaeltacht, Sport and Media
- Supports the tourism industry in increasing revenue and employment
- Oversees programmes to promote Ireland’s culture and arts
- Promotes use of the Irish language among the general public and supports the development of the Gaeltacht
- Promotes sports participation among general public and develops high performance facilities for elite athletes
- Develops broadcasting and media policy and oversees organisations such as the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland (BAI), RTÉ and TG4
You can read more about the Department of Tourism, Culture, Arts, Gaeltacht, Sport and Media on its website.
Department of Transport
- Oversees the work of a range of agencies responsible for the development and operation of Ireland’s transport infrastructure
- Bodies overseen by the Department include the National Transport Authority, the Road Safety Authority (RSA), the Coast Guard and the Air Accident Investigation Unit (AAIU)
You can read more about the Department of Transport on its website.