Minister of State at the Department of the Taoiseach

The Minister of State at the Department of the Taoiseach, officially styled as the Minister of State at the Department of the Taoiseach (with special responsibility as Government Chief Whip), is the Chief Whip of the Government of Ireland and is the most senior Minister of State in the Government of Ireland.

The role of the Whip is primarily that of the disciplinarian for all government parties, to ensure that all deputies, including ministers, attend for Dáil Business and follow the government line on all issues.[1][2] The current Government Chief Whip is Regina Doherty, TD.


The main responsibilities of the Chief Whip include:[3]

Attendance at Government meetings

The Chief Whip is a Minister of State who attends Government meetings, but does not have a vote. The title is sometimes given as "Minister of State, attending Government"

Other Ministers of state with the title "Minister of State, attending Government" are better known as Super Juniors.

Preparation of weekly brief for Taoiseach on legislation in preparation

Before each Dáil Session letters are sent to all Ministers to see what legislation or other business their Department expects to place before the Dáil. A weekly report on what stage Bills are at is given to the Taoiseach. During the Order of Business the Taoiseach is often queried about what legislation is promised. The weekly report shows what Bills are promised and gives an expected date of publication of the Bill.

Scheduling and monitoring of Dáil business

Once a Bill has been published and is placed on the Dáil Order Paper the staff in the Whip's Office keep in touch with Minister's Private Secretaries about when they wish to have their bill taken in the Dáil - sometimes the Whip's Office have to insist that a Bill is taken on a certain day, particularly when there is not much business for the House. Every Wednesday the Private Secretary prepares an agenda (called a schedule - see example) for each sitting day of the following week. This is discussed at a meeting of all Whips at their Wednesday night meeting. At the moment there are five whips: Government (Fine Gael) Chief whip, Regina Doherty; Labour Party whip Emmet Stagg; Sinn Féin whip Aengus Ó Snodaigh and Fianna Fáil whip Seán Ó Fearghaíl.

Operation of the pairing system

A pair is an arrangement whereby a Government Deputy's name is linked with an Opposition Deputy in the event of a Vote arising. The practice is that under such an arrangement neither Deputy votes in any Division arising while the pairing agreement is valid. Because it is obviously so important for the Government to maintain its majority in the Dáil Chamber the pairing arrangements must be attended to very carefully. If a member cannot attend a notice explaining their absence must be sent to the Chief Whip as early as possible.

Leinster House accommodation for political parties

The Minister has to ensure that facilities and services in Leinster House are satisfactory for members and staff. The Opposition Whips liaise with him on matters such as office equipment which they may require.

Chairing Legislation Committee

The Chief Whip chairs the weekly meeting of the Legislation Committee. This Committee meets to discuss the progress of Bills in Departments and tries to ensure that there is always enough business for the Dáil and Seanad. The meeting is attended by the Attorney General, a Parliamentary Draftsman, Programme Manager to the Taoiseach, Programme Manager to the Tánaiste, Principal Officer in this Department (who looks after legislation) and the Chief Whip.


The office was first created in 1922 as Parliamentary Secretary to the President of the Executive Council. On 29 December 1937 under the terms of the 1937 Constitution of Ireland, the office of Parliamentary Secretary to the President was changed to that of Parliamentary Secretary to the Taoiseach. Following the enactment of the "Ministers and Secretaries (Amendment) (No.2) Act, 1977", the office of Parliamentary Secretary to the Taoiseach was replaced with the office of Minister of State at the Department of the Taoiseach.

List of office-holders

No. Name[4] Term of office Party
1. Daniel McCarthy 6 December 1922 31 March 1924 Cumann na nGaedheal
2. James Dolan 19 June 1924 24 June 1927 Cumann na nGaedheal
3. Eamonn Duggan 24 June 1927 9 March 1932 Cumann na nGaedheal
4. Gerald Boland 9 March 1932 7 February 1933 Fianna Fáil
5. Patrick Little 8 February 1933 29 December 1937 Fianna Fáil
No. Name Term of office Party
Patrick Little 29 December 1937 26 September 1939 Fianna Fáil
6. Paddy Smith 27 September 1939 2 July 1943 Fianna Fáil
7. Eamonn Kissane 2 July 1943 18 February 1948 Fianna Fáil
8. Liam Cosgrave 18 February 1948 13 June 1951 Fine Gael
9. Donnchadh Ó Briain (1st time) 13 June 1951 2 June 1954 Fianna Fáil
10. Denis J. O'Sullivan 2 June 1954 20 March 1957 Fine Gael
Donnchadh Ó Briain (2nd time) 20 March 1957 11 October 1961 Fianna Fáil
11. Joseph Brennan 11 October 1961 21 April 1965 Fianna Fáil
12. Michael Carty 21 April 1965 2 July 1969 Fianna Fáil
13. Desmond O'Malley 2 July 1969 7 May 1970 Fianna Fáil
14. David Andrews 8 May 1970 14 March 1973 Fianna Fáil
15. John Kelly 14 March 1973 5 July 1977 Fine Gael
16. Patrick Lalor 5 July 1977 1 January 1978 Fianna Fáil
No. Name Term of office Party
Patrick Lalor 1 January 1978 1 July 1979 Fianna Fáil
17. Michael Woods 1 July 1979 11 December 1979 Fianna Fáil
18. Seán Moore 13 December 1979 30 June 1981 Fianna Fáil
19. Gerry L'Estrange 30 June 1981 11 November 1981 Fine Gael
20. Fergus O'Brien (1st time) 11 November 1981 9 March 1982 Fine Gael
21. Bertie Ahern 9 March 1982 14 December 1982 Fianna Fáil
22. Seán Barrett (1st time) 14 December 1982 13 February 1986 Fine Gael
Fergus O'Brien (2nd time) 13 February 1986 10 March 1987 Fine Gael
23. Vincent Brady 10 March 1987 14 November 1991 Fianna Fáil
24. Dermot Ahern 15 November 1991 11 February 1992 Fianna Fáil
25. Noel Dempsey 11 February 1992 15 December 1994 Fianna Fáil
Seán Barrett (2nd time) 15 December 1994 23 May 1995 Fine Gael
26. Jim Higgins 24 May 1995 26 June 1997 Fine Gael
27. Séamus Brennan 26 June 1997 6 June 2002 Fianna Fáil
28. Mary Hanafin 6 June 2002 29 September 2004 Fianna Fáil
29. Tom Kitt 29 September 2004 7 May 2008 Fianna Fáil
30. Pat Carey 7 May 2008 23 March 2010 Fianna Fáil
31. John Curran 23 March 2010 9 March 2011 Fianna Fáil
32. Paul Kehoe 9 March 2011 6 May 2016 Fine Gael
33. Regina Doherty 6 May 2016 Incumbent Fine Gael

See also


  1. "Role of Minister of State (Chief Whip)". Department of Taoiseach. 2011. Retrieved 21 February 2012.
  2. "Minister of State and Chief Whip's Private Office". Department of Taoiseach. 2011. Retrieved 21 February 2012.
  3. MacCarthaigh, Muiris (2005). "How parliamentary accountability functions in Ireland". Accountability in Irish parliamentary politics. Institute of Public Administration. pp. 147–150. ISBN 978-1-904541-31-8. Retrieved 21 February 2012.
  4. "History of Government". Department of Taoiseach. 2011. Retrieved 21 February 2012.
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