President Higgins receives Micheál Martin at Áras An Uachtaráin as he resigns as Taoiseach after a 2 and half year term. Photos: MAXWELLS DUBLIN

Martin hands the reins over to Varadkar

Cork representatives were the main movers in the recent cabinet ‘reshuffle’ which saw little overall change as Leo Varadkar became Taoiseach for the second time.

Varadkar’s return brought an end to Micheál Martin’s 2 and a half year term which had made him the first Cork Taoiseach since Jack Lynch stepped down in 1979.

The Fianna Fáil party leader, who represents Cork South Central, replaces Fine Gael’s Varadkar as Tánaiste, while also taking over as Minister for Foreign Affairs from fellow Cork South Central TD Simon Coveney of Fine Gael.

Charles Michel, President of the European Council, tweeted: “Dear @MichealMartinTD, we will miss your soft-spoken ways and your constructiveness at the #EUCO table — always looking for a positive way forward and exploring compromise solutions. Thank you. We wish you all the best. Go raibh maith agat agus gach rath ort!”

In turn, Mr Coveney has taken over as Minister of Enterprise, Trade and Employment, a role previously held by Mr Varadkar.

Mr Coveney’s term as Minister for Foreign Affairs began in June 2017.

Paying tribute to Mr Coveney’s achievements, Fine Gael Cllr for Cork City South Central Ward, Shane O'Callaghan tweeted: “Even his opponents would admit that @simoncoveney has been one of the best, if not the best Minister for Foreign Affairs in the history of the State. He is certainly up there in the top tier of Foreign Ministers with the likes of Peter Barry, Garret Fitzgerald and Eamon De Valera,” his tweet said.

Also paying tribute was British MP Julian Smith who wrote: “My experience of working with @simoncoveney to restore Stormont was an extremely positive one. His energy and focus will make him an excellent Enterprise Minister for #ireland - Ar aghaidh!”

Another Cork South Central TD, Michael McGrath of Fianna Fáil, is the new Minister for Finance, trading places with Fine Gael’s Paschal Donohoe who takes over as Minister of Public Expenditure, NDP Delivery and Reform. He is the first Cork Minister for Finance since Fianna Fáil TD Gene Fitzgerald who held the position from December 1980 to June 1981. He also represented Cork South Central.

“I wish Michael McGrath every success as the Minister for Finance for our country. His deep experience in and understanding of economic matters are well known and will be critical. But his innate decency and sense of public service will continue to make the difference we need,” tweeted Minister Donohoe.

In other changes, Simon Harris will take on the role of Minister for Justice for a time until Helen McEntee returns from maternity leave and resumes the role. Mr Harris will remain Minister of Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science. Fianna Fáil’s Jack Chambers was appointed super junior Minister at the Department of Transport, while Hildegarde Naughton has been appointed as the new chief whip. Finally, Rossa Fanning was appointed as Attorney General, with Pippa Hackett becoming Minister of State for Land Use and Biodiversity at the Department of Agriculture. Stephen Donnelly remains the health minister, Darragh O’Brien keeps his housing ministery, Green Party leader Eamon Ryan remains in the Department of Environment, Norma Foley also remains in education while Catherine Martin will remain in the Department of Tourism, Culture, Arts, Gaeltacht, Sport and Media.

Heather Humphreys, Charlie McConalogue and Roderic O’Gorman also continue with their briefs.