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Republic of Ireland

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A Department of State (Irish: Roinn Stáit) of Ireland, is a department or ministry of the Government of Ireland. The head of such a department is a Minister of the Government (Irish: Aire Rialtais), often called a 'cabinet minister' or 'government minister' which should not be confused with Minister of State which is a junior non-cabinet minister who is attached to a Department of State and assists a Minister of the Government.

The law regarding the Departments of State and Ministers of the Government is detailed in the Ministers and Secretaries Act 1924 and amendments. The Constitution of Ireland also has significant legal effect on functions and structures.


There are fifteen individual Departments of State in the Irish Government. Each Department is led by a Minister of the Government, who is appointed by the President on the nomination of the Taoiseach and approval of Dáil Éireann, and cover matters that require direct political oversight. For all Departments, the Minister in question is simply known as Minister for... and is a member of the Cabinet, a cabinet level minister without a department is called a Minister without portfolio but currently there is none of such standing. A Minister of the Government is generally supported by a team of junior ministers, officially called Ministers of State, and may delegate powers to such officials in accordance with law.

The Minister of the Government has the power to suggest and propose new or amended legislation to the Government relating to matters that arise in his or her own department. Ministers are also entitled to make "Statutory Instruments", also known as delegated or secondary legislation. Statutory Instruments allow the minister to give effect to or implement legislation without the need to have every detail passed by the Oireachtas. Statutory Instruments do not have to be approved by the Oireachtas, although they may be cancelled by either the Dáil or the Seanad.

Each Department of State has a permanent staff that remains in office regardless of changes in Government or the Oireachtas. The Departments' staff are described as the civil service. The administrative management of the Department is led by a senior civil servant known as a Secretary-General. These officials advise and assist the minister in the running of the department.

List of Departments of State

This is a list of current Departments of State, listed under their present title.

Department of State Creation Minister
Agriculture, Fisheries and Food 1919 Brendan Smith
Defence 1919 Willie O'Dea
Enterprise, Trade and Employment 1919 Mary Coughlan
Environment, Heritage and Local Government 1919 John Gormley
Finance 1919 Brian Lenihan
Foreign Affairs 1919 Micheál Martin
Justice, Equality and Law Reform 1919 Dermot Ahern
Communications, Energy and Natural Resources 1921 Eamon Ryan
Education and Science 1921 Batt O'Keeffe
Taoiseach 1937 Brian Cowen
Health and Children 1947 Mary Harney
Social and Family Affairs 1947 Mary Hanafin
Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs 1956 Éamon Ó Cuív
Transport 1959 Noel Dempsey
Arts, Sport and Tourism 1977 Martin Cullen

This is a list of past Departments of State, listed under their final title.

Department of State Operation Subsumed by
Department of Posts and Telegraphs 1922–1984 Department of Communications
Department of the Co-ordination of Defensive Measures 1939–1945 Department of Defence
Department of Supplies 1939–1945 Department of Industry and Commerce
Department of Labour 1966–1993 Department of Enterprise and Employment
Department of the Public Service 1973–1987 Department of Tourism and Transport
Department of Communications 1984–1991 Department of Tourism, Transport and Communications
Department of Equality and Law Reform 1993–1997 Department of Justice, Equality and Law Reform


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