I propose to take Questions Nos. 1 to 5, inclusive, together.
In accordance with established practice, these are posts, the filling of which is a matter for the Government. Expressions of interest were sought and have been received for these posts. All suitable officers, irrespective of whether they have submitted an expression of interest, are considered before a decision is made by the Government.
The Government this morning appointed Ambassador Geraldine Byrne Nason, currently Deputy Permanent Representative of Ireland to the European Union, to be Second Secretary General of the Department of the Taoiseach.
The new Second Secretary General will support the operation of two new mechanisms at the centre of Government to enhance co-ordination and effectiveness in the critical areas of EU affairs and economic management. She will have responsibility for supporting the Government Economic Management Council, on which she will report to the Tánaiste, and will co-ordinate support for the Tánaiste in his engagement with whole-of-government issues, including Cabinet committee structures, through an Office of the Tánaiste within the Department of the Taoiseach.
The Second Secretary General in discharging responsibility for EU co-ordination will report as appropriate to me and to the Tánaiste. She will be a member of the management advisory committee of my Department, reporting to the Secretary General of the Department.
My Department has a role in supporting the Government as a collective authority, and operates mechanisms for co-ordinating business across departmental boundaries, especially through Cabinet committees and their supporting groups of officials. It is in that spirit that the Second Secretary General will provide support for me and for the Tánaiste in relevant areas, since in the EU area in particular we have distinct but closely related and complementary responsibilities. This is a pragmatic and cost-effective approach to supporting key leadership functions at the centre of Government and the precise working arrangements will develop in the normal way.
The period since the receipt of expressions of interest, which has been particularly busy as the Government progressed its urgent priorities, has provided an opportunity to clarify some of the issues that are likely to require particular time and attention over the term of this Government. It has also provided an opportunity to consider the particular qualities and experience likely to be of most value in discharging the duties of these important posts. Appointments to these posts are being made in the context of a considered view of how the machinery of government at the centre should operate. I expect the Government to appoint a new Secretary General to the Government and to my Department shortly.