Ministers Heather Humphreys (left) and Helen McEntee (right).

Humphreys thanked as McEntee returns to Justice

Minister Heather Humphreys says it’s been an honour to serve as Minister for Justice.

She’s served in the role in a temporary capacity for the past six months as Meath TD Helen McEntee took maternity leave for the birth of her first child.

She returned to the Department of Justice today Monday (November 1).

Minister Humphreys took over responsibility for the role, along with the Departments of Social Protection and Rural and Community Development.

It was the first time a Minister held a role in three departments for any considerable length of time.

Minister Humphreys thanked staff in the department and colleagues for their help over the past six months.

“I just want to thank the Department of Justice and the wonderful team that supported me during my time there; also to Minister Hildegarde Naughton and Minister James Browne.”

Both junior ministers in the Department, they took on some of the day-to-day responsibilities normally reserved for the ranking cabinet minister.

The ad hoc arrangement was put in place as there are no regulations governing maternity leave for politicians. TDs and Senators are not entitled to maternity protection.

The Government agreed that another minister would take on the responsibilities of the Department, while Minister McEntee was on leave.

Tánaiste Leo Varadkar thanked Minister Humphreys for taking on the justice responsibilities saying she had done “an amazing job” and was a “steady pair of hands”.

“If the burden of running three ministries was ever too much for her, she never let it show,” he said.

The Tánaiste joked he was looking forward to Fine Gael returning to a full strength ministerial team around the cabinet table, with Minister McEntee on maternity leave and Minister Simon Harris taking paternity leave after the birth of his second child.

This, coupled with Foreign Affairs Minister Simon Coveney on trips abroad, meant Fine Gael “were a team of three or four on occasion”.