Clare TD Pat Breen has been rewarded for his loyalty to Leo Varadkar during the Fine Gael leadership contest to replace Enda Kenny as he maintains his ministerial position with additional responsibilities.
Leo Varadkar’s first job as Taoiseach was to appoint a new cabinet and Ministers of State. With the retirement from office of Michael Noonan, there is no longer a senior Government minister located in the Midwest.
In his enhanced role, Pat Breen has probably broken all records for the longest ministerial title. From now on when he attends public functions he will be welcomed as the Minister of State across the Departments of Enterprise and Innovation, the Department of the Taoiseach, Department of Employment and Social Protection, and the Department of Justice and Equality with responsibility for Trade, Employment, Business, EU Digital Single Market and Data Protection. Wow!
On returning to office Minister Breen said, “These are key areas of responsibility in a growing and changing economy. I look forward to the challenge and job of work required in my newly expanded role.” The expansion of his role to the Department of Social Protection allows him to progress the work to extend the rights of the self employed and small business owners.
Regarding his new responsibilities for the EU Digital Single Market and data protection, Minister Breen said he will work with European counterparts to make the EU’s digital world a seamless and level marketplace to buy and sell. “This will open up huge markets to small businesses throughout Ireland and Clare.”
Minister Breen said he looks forward to ensuring that Ireland plays its role in meeting all the objectives of the Digital Single Market strategy which is due for completion next year in 2018. He said cyber security and data protection remain central to the digital revolution and Ireland needs to act to address the issues raised around digitisation. “The value of the data economy can increase to €739 billion across the EU by 2020, representing 4% of the EU’s GDP, for this to happen, data needs to be continuously accessible, allowed to move freely and be secure.”
His enhanced role was greeted with some hostility by one commentator writing in the Irish Times. Karlin Lillington described the new responsibilities as “idiotic’, adding, “these grab-bag sub-ministries toss together a hodgepodge of areas too broad for one person to cover effectively. But more significantly, because the new Cabinet takes what was a groundbreaking new ministerial role in data protection, created by Enda Kenny and awarded to Dara Murphy, and shoves it into another already-huge portfolio.”
An attack by the Dublin elite will no doubt play well for Pat Breen in his own constituency, and he addressed this in a statement saying, “I would like to thank the people of Clare for their support. While I am delighted to take on this newly extended Minister of State portfolio, my greatest pride will continue to be in representing the people of the Banner in Government.”