By Rebecca Black, PA
Taoiseach Micheál Martin has said he is focusing on getting the work done rather than his future role in Government at the end of next year.
Mr Martin is set to hand over the post of Taoiseach to Fine Gael leader Leo Varadkar in December 2022, under the terms of the government deal agreed between the two traditional political rivals and the Green Party.
The historic deal followed a general election result in 2020 which saw Sinn Féin, Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael finish in an almost dead heat.
Mr Varadkar is Tánaiste in the mixed Government, which also includes Green Party leader Eamon Ryan.
Asked about the future Government, Mr Martin said his key focus is policy and “getting the work done”.
He said future ministerial posts will be considered closer to the time.
“When I became Taoiseach I was anxious that we would create structures that would enable us to deliver on the policy objectives within the programme for government,” he said.
“And to that extent we set up a fairly significant subcommittee structure within cabinet, particularly the key critical areas of housing, of climate, of economy, health, and education.
“And those committees are very important for not just getting into the fine detail of policy, but also following through and monitoring delivery.
“So my focus, and this is still early years in this Government, is to really deliver now on the key commitments.
“We’ve made great progress, I would argue, so far. So I’m not speculating what’s going to happen in 12 months time in terms of specific ministries or anything like that, that would be a matter that would be considered closer to that time.”
Mr Martin said his ministers were “doing very well” and stressed the importance of consistency.
“I am of a view that consistency of policy and delivery is important,” he said.
“Chopping and changing all of the time might look good for a day or two, but nothing can beat the substance of getting real change.”
Mr Martin described Minister for Public Expenditure Michael McGrath as “very effective and solid”, working with Minister for Finance Paschal Donohoe to take the economy through on of its largest upsets in 100 years.
“I think it’s the fastest recession we’ve had and deepest recession, but we’ve bounced back, along with our European colleagues, but in Ireland, we’ve bounced back very significantly,” he said.
“And so I think economically, the Government has done very well, in the context of a pandemic, fastest growing in Europe and quarter three employment almost back now above pre-pandemic levels.”
He described Minister for Housing Darragh O’Brien as having put together a very comprehensive Housing for All strategy, with substance and funding, while he said Minister for Agriculture Charlie McConalogue has been “very, very effective”.
Mr Martin described Norman Foley has having been a “very authoritative” Minister for Education, and commended Minister for Health Stephen Donnelly for presiding, he said, over one of the best vaccination programmes in Europe, if not across the globe.
The Taoiseach added: “People are only a year and a half in office and I think they’re all working very well, as are the ministers of state, all having significant legislation under their belt and getting important legislation passed, as well as initiatives particularly in mental health, older people and disabilities.”