Public Affairs Update | April 2024

Public Affairs Update | April 2024

Public Affairs Update | April 2024

June 10, 2024

Political Highlights

New Taoiseach Elected

Tuesday 9th April: Following the election (88 votes to 69) by Dáil Éireann of Simon Harris (Wicklow) as the country’s 16th and youngest ever (37) Taoiseach, he immediately moved to reshuffle a number of his party’s (Fine Gael) senior ministers.

Two Ministers of State promoted to full ministerial rank:  

Peter Burke (Longford - Westmeath) is the new Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment, (replacing Simon Coveney who had previously announced he would not be returning to Cabinet after the Easter recess.

Patrick O'Donovan (Limerick County) is the new Minister of Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science (a post previously held by Mr Harris).

Former Taoiseach Leo Varadkar and former Minister Simon Coveney are no longer members of cabinet and will serve-out the remaining period of the current Dáil as backbenchers, the rest of the Cabinet roles are unchanged.

On Wednesday 10th April the Taoiseach announced the appointment of three new Ministers of State:

Emer Higgins (Dublin Mid-West) - Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment (Employment Affairs and Retail Business) and Department of Social Protection

Alan Dillon (Mayo) - Department of Housing, Local Government and Heritage (Local Government and Planning)

Colm Burke (Cork North Central) – Department of Health (Public Health and Drugs Strategy)

The existing Ministers of State were unchanged with some changes in areas of responsibility. In due course, where relevant, there will be the follow-on changes at Oireachtas Committee level.

Red C Poll

In response to the recent political developments, there has been no material shift in the outcome of political opinion polls.

Red C Poll Standings (Sunday 28th April): Sinn Fein 27% +2, Fine Gael 20% + 1, Fianna Fáil 14 -2, Ind 19% +2, Soc Dem 6% no change, Labour 3% no change, Green Party 3% -1, PBP Solidarity 2% - 1, Aontú 4% -1.

Former DUP Leader Jeffrey Donaldson appears in court

Northern Ireland - 24th April:  

Jeffrey Donaldson MP who resigned the position of DUP leader on the 29th March, appeared before Newry’s Magistrates’ Court and was charged with eleven historical sexual offences, including one count of rape. The other ten charges are one of gross indecency with a child and nine counts of indecently assaulting a female. There are two alleged victims, and the offences are alleged to have taken place over a 21-year period between January 1985 and December 2006.

His wife Eleanor Donaldson, 58, is facing four charges including aiding and abetting the offence.

The pair were releases on continuing bail of £350 each. The case is listed for mention again on the 22nd May.

Brussels 25th April

The last plenary session of the European Parliament – in its current composition - took place from 22 to 25 April 2024. The political focus will now turn to the European and Local Elections, which will take place in Ireland on Friday 7th June.

Geo-political Update


The House of Representatives approves $61bn aid for Ukraine

20th April: The US House of Representatives approved $95bn in foreign aid for Ukraine, Israel and Taiwan as Democrats and Republicans banded together after months of hard-right resistance over renewed American support for repelling Russia’s invasion. The outcome is viewed as a victory for moderates over extremists in the US House of Congress.


22nd April: .US officials say Israel hit Iran with a missile, in what appears to have been a retaliatory strike after weeks of escalating tensions between the two countries.

The attack came after weeks of soaring tensions between the regional rivals, which have already seen an Israeli attack on an Iranian compound in Syria, with Iran launching an unprecedented retaliatory assault against Israel.

There has been a proliferation of pro-Palestinian protests on University Campuses across the United States, including many of the Ivy League colleges.

United States

22nd April: Separately in the United States, the hush-money payments prosecution against Donald Trump has started in Manhattan, following a speedier than anticipated jury selection, with opening arguments and the first witness testimony taking place on 22nd April

Other Significant Highlights

Stardust Inquest

Inquests Findings: Verdicts of unlawful killing were returned at the Inquests into the deaths of the forty-eight people who died in the 1981 fire at the Stardust nightclub in Dublin.

The twelve-person jury delivered the verdict of unlawful killing to a packed courtroom in the Pillar Room on the grounds of the Rotunda Hospital in Dublin city centre.

State Apology: The findings of the inquest were swiftly followed by a State Apology to the families and friends of the victims. This was delivered in the Dáil by Taoiseach Harris on Tuesday 23rd April (the first sitting of the Dáil following the inquests findings were delivered.


Growth Forecast by Ibec: 15th April: In its first Quarterly Economic Outlook for the year (2024), Ibec is forecasting growth in GDP of 2% this year and 3.4% in 2025. The business group said the Irish economy is still performing robustly, despite rising inflation and higher interest rates.

The report forecasts higher growth in exports, investment and it said the overall economy is expected to grow this year and next, on the back of falling inflation, and anticipated interest rate reductions.

Ibec's Head of National Policy and Chief Economist Gerard Brady said falling inflation and anticipated interest rate cuts this year should provide a boost to the economy.

He pointed to the fact that the economy added 90,000 jobs in the past twelve months as further evidence of the robust performance of the economy.

"For consumer-facing businesses, the fall off in inflation to 2.3% in 2024, combined with high employment and rising wages will mean a return to real income growth for households, even though prices facing consumers will remain higher than previous years due to higher global commodity costs," he said.

"Whilst the domestic market remains in a much better position than in much of Europe, there are broader concerns about the strength of the global economy which will weigh on Irish growth in the coming years," he said.

Budget spending spree could overheat economy, Central Bank deputy governor warns:

Big tax cuts or spending increases above the five per cent rule in the upcoming budget could drive domestic “imbalances” and overheat the economy, Central Bank governor Vasileios Madouros has said.

He also warned another commodity price shock linked to geopolitical tensions in the Middle East and/or further trade fragmentation posed the biggest external risks to Ireland’s economic outlook.

In an interview with The Irish Times, Mr Madouros, who is responsible for monetary and financial stability, highlighted the importance of adhering to the five per cent spending rule in October’s budget while the economy is running close to capacity in employment terms.

Migration – Asylum Seekers:

Towards the end of the month there was significant political focus on migration, with a standoff between Dublin and London on it issue of migrants entering Ireland via the border in Northern Ireland and proposals to repatriate them to the UK.

Driven by far-right extremists, there were violent protests in Newtownmountkennedy. Co. Wicklow against proposed accommodation for asylum-seekers. Four people were charged with offenses, following arrests on Thursday 25th April.

Overall, the Minister for Justice, Helen McEntee is under pressure for her handing of the migration and asylum seeker issue, which is emerging as a major political issue.

Click to read more