Minister for Defence (Ireland)

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Minister for Defence
Irish Government Logo.png
Simon Coveney 2018.jpg
Simon Coveney

since 27 June 2020
Department of Defence
Member of Government of Ireland
Nominator Taoiseach
Appointer President
Inaugural holder Richard Mulcahy
Formation22 January 1919
Website Department of Defence

The Minister for Defence (Irish : An tAire Cosanta) is the senior minister at the Department of Defence in the Government of Ireland. The current Minister for Defence is Simon Coveney, TD. [1] He is also Minister for Foreign Affairs.


The Department of Defence headquarters are in Newbridge, County Kildare Department of Defence HQ Newbridge Co Kildare frontshot.jpg
The Department of Defence headquarters are in Newbridge, County Kildare

The Department is responsible for the Irish Defence Forces. The Ministers and Secretaries Act 1924 assigned the minister the additional title of Commander-in-Chief as the Chairman of the Council of Defence. The Defence Act 1954 removed this title, as a result of the reconstitution of the Council of Defence. The President of Ireland, a largely ceremonial role, is considered the Supreme Commander of the Defence Forces. [2] In practice, the Minister acts on the President's behalf and reports to the Irish Government. The Minister for Defence is advised by the Council of Defence on the business of the Department of Defence. [3]

From 1978 to 2020, the Minister for Defence was assisted by the junior ministerial role of Minister of State at the Department of Defence.

Ministers for Defence since 1919

  Denotes acting Minister
No.NameTerm of officeParty
1 Richard Mulcahy [lower-alpha 1] (1st time)22 January 19191 April 1919 Sinn Féin
2 Cathal Brugha [lower-alpha 2] 1 April 19199 January 1922 Sinn Féin
Richard Mulcahy (2nd time)10 January 192219 March 1924 Sinn Féin (Pro-Treaty)
3 W. T. Cosgrave (acting)20 March 192421 November 1924 Cumann na nGaedheal
4 Peter Hughes 21 November 192423 June 1927 Cumann na nGaedheal
5 Desmond FitzGerald 23 June 19279 March 1932 Cumann na nGaedheal
6 Frank Aiken 9 March 19328 September 1939 Fianna Fáil
7 Oscar Traynor (1st time)8 September 193918 February 1948 Fianna Fáil
8 Thomas F. O'Higgins 18 February 19487 March 1951 Fine Gael
9 Seán Mac Eoin (1st time)7 March 195113 June 1951 Fine Gael
Oscar Traynor (2nd time)13 June 19512 June 1954 Fianna Fáil
Seán Mac Eoin (2nd time)2 June 195420 March 1957 Fine Gael
10 Kevin Boland 20 March 195711 October 1961 Fianna Fáil
11 Gerald Bartley 11 October 196121 April 1965 Fianna Fáil
12 Michael Hilliard 21 April 19652 July 1969 Fianna Fáil
13 Jim Gibbons 2 July 19699 May 1970 Fianna Fáil
14 Jerry Cronin 9 May 197014 March 1973 Fianna Fáil
15 Paddy Donegan 14 March 19732 December 1976 Fine Gael
16 Liam Cosgrave (acting) [lower-alpha 3] 2 December 197616 December 1976 Fine Gael
17 Oliver J. Flanagan 16 December 19765 July 1977 Fine Gael
18 Bobby Molloy 5 July 197711 December 1979 Fianna Fáil
19 Pádraig Faulkner 12 December 197915 October 1980 Fianna Fáil
20 Sylvester Barrett 15 October 198030 June 1981 Fianna Fáil
21 James Tully 30 June 19819 March 1982 Labour Party
22 Paddy Power 9 March 198214 December 1982 Fianna Fáil
23 Patrick Cooney 14 December 198214 February 1986 Fine Gael
24 Paddy O'Toole 14 February 198610 March 1987 Fine Gael
25 Michael J. Noonan 10 March 198712 July 1989 Fianna Fáil
26 Brian Lenihan 12 July 198931 October 1990 Fianna Fáil
27 Charles Haughey (acting) [lower-alpha 3] 1 November 19905 February 1991 Fianna Fáil
28 Brendan Daly 5 February 199114 November 1991 Fianna Fáil
29 Vincent Brady 14 November 199111 February 1992 Fianna Fáil
30 John Wilson 11 February 199212 January 1993 Fianna Fáil
31 David Andrews [lower-alpha 4] (1st time)12 January 199315 December 1994 Fianna Fáil
32 Hugh Coveney [lower-alpha 4] 15 December 199423 May 1995 Fine Gael
33 Seán Barrett [lower-alpha 4] 23 May 199526 June 1997 Fine Gael
David Andrews (2nd time)26 June 19978 October 1997 Fianna Fáil
34 Michael Smith 8 October 199729 September 2004 Fianna Fáil
35 Willie O'Dea 29 September 200418 February 2010 Fianna Fáil
36 Brian Cowen (acting) [lower-alpha 3] 18 February 201023 March 2010 Fianna Fáil
37 Tony Killeen 23 March 201019 January 2011 Fianna Fáil
38 Éamon Ó Cuív [lower-alpha 5] 20 January 20119 March 2011 Fianna Fáil
39 Alan Shatter [lower-alpha 6] 9 March 20117 May 2014 Fine Gael
40 Enda Kenny (acting) [lower-alpha 3] 7 May 201411 July 2014 Fine Gael
41 Simon Coveney [lower-alpha 7] (1st time)11 July 20146 May 2016 Fine Gael
Enda Kenny [lower-alpha 3] 6 May 201614 June 2017 Fine Gael
42 Leo Varadkar [lower-alpha 3] 14 June 201727 June 2020 Fine Gael
Simon Coveney [lower-alpha 8] (2nd time)27 June 2020Incumbent Fine Gael
  1. On the first occasion he served as minister Mulcahy bore the title Minister for National Defence.
  2. Brugha bore the title Secretary of State for Defence.
  3. 1 2 3 4 5 6 Also Taoiseach
  4. 1 2 3 Also Minister for the Marine
  5. Also Minister for Social Protection and (from 23 January) Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government
  6. Also Minister for Justice and Equality
  7. Also Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine
  8. Also Minister for Foreign Affairs

See also

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  1. "List of Ministers and Ministers of State", Government of Ireland , retrieved 31 July 2020
  2. Defence Act 1954
  3. "Ministers And Secretaries Act 1924, Section 8: Constitution of the Council of Defence" . Retrieved 27 June 2020. the Minister for Defence […] shall be assisted by a Council of Defence