Limerick TD named Minister for Higher Education

Minister for Higher Education Patrick O'Donovan. Photo: Oisin McHugh.

FOR THE first time in close to seven years, Limerick will have a seat at government cabinet as Patrick O’Donovan, now former OPW minister, has been named as Minister for Higher Education.

The announcement comes as new Taoiseach Simon Harris outlines his cabinet reshuffle.

The West Limerick Fine Gael TD becomes the first local TD nominated to cabinet since Michael Noonan, who served as Finance Minister from 2011 to 2017 under former Taoiseach Enda Kenny.

Minister O’Donovan will be joining fellow Treaty TD Niall Collins (Fianna Fáil), Minister of State for Skills and Further Education, in the same department.

The announcement marks a promotion for Minister O’Donovan, who previously served as Minister of State with responsibility for the Office of Public Works and the Gaeltacht since 2020.

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The Newcastle West man, an industrial chemist by trade before returning to education to become a primary school teacher, was first elected to the former Limerick County Council in 2004 at the age of 27. He topped polls with 1,485 first-preference votes.

In 2011 he was first elected to the Dáil where he served under former Fine Gael party leader Enda Kenny.

The 47-year-old, previous to serving as OPW Minister, served as Minister of State at the Department of Finance with special responsibility for Public Procurement, Open Government, and eGovernment from June 2017 until June 2020. He was also Minister of State for Tourism and Sport between 2016 and 2017.

He has three children with his wife Eileen, whom he married in 2014.