Minister Flanagan announces the radical restructuring of the Department of Justice & Equality


Government appoints a new Secretary General to the Department


First Report of the Effectiveness and Renewal Group for the Department of Justice and Equality is published


10 July 2018


The Minister for Justice and Equality Charlie Flanagan, T.D., has announced a radical restructuring of his Department and the appointment of a new Secretary General to lead the transformation process.


The blueprint for the fundamental restructuring of the Department is contained in the first report of the Effectiveness and Renewal Group for the Department of Justice and Equality.  Cabinet today noted the report.


Minister Flanagan said changes will begin immediately with the procurement of external consultants to assist in the structural transformation of the Department from the ‘Traditional Model’ to a ‘Functional Model’, better equipped to meet the myriad challenges facing the Department now and into the future.


Mr. Aidan O’Driscoll has been appointed Secretary General with effect from September. He is an accomplished career civil servant who has served as Secretary General of the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine since 2015.  Mr. O’Driscoll has a distinguished career record at home and abroad, has worked in both the public and private sector and has an MSc Strategic Management among his many qualifications.


An additional Deputy Secretary General will be appointed, joining Deputy Secretary General Oonagh McPhillips in heading up the two new divisions in the Department – (i) Justice and Equality and (ii) Home Affairs.


Minister Flanagan said:


“The Department of Justice and Equality is a central pillar of Government and every day it carries out vital work in the public interest.  It has faced many difficult challenges in recent times and it is clear from the report of the Effectiveness and Renewal Group that its traditional structure is not equipping it to effectively meet the vast range of demands it faces today. 


“I want to thank the Effectiveness and Renewal Group for an excellent report.  The blueprint they have set out for the Department will help transform its structures and enable its very capable officials to undertake their important work in a better way. The continued engagement of the Group as we go forward is important.


“I look forward to working closely with Aidan O’Driscoll who I believe has the right blend of experience and qualifications to lead the change process in the Department at this crucial time.  The Secretary General plays a vital leadership role and all of Aidan’s skills and experience will be required to ensure the successful internal restructuring of the Department and an effective response to the report of the Commission on the Future of Policing in Ireland, due in September.


“Complementing that process, the Effectiveness and Renewal Group proposes a model to enable the Department to manage its relationship with the Gardaí in a far more structured and impartial manner.”


In accordance with its terms of reference, the Effectiveness and Renewal Group will stay in place to oversee the changes required and will continue to work closely with the Department and all stakeholders.  Its next report to Government is due in September.


Minister Flanagan added:


“I am pleased to note that the ERG report recognises the vital contribution made by the staff of the Department to the development and protection of our society.  I can wholeheartedly endorse that conclusion from my own experience and I would particularly like to acknowledge the work of all the staff in my Department in supporting me to deliver across the complex wide-reaching portfolio in an often challenging and fast changing environment. 


“In particular I want to acknowledge the leadership and support of Ms. Oonagh McPhillips in her capacity as acting Secretary General.  Oonagh will continue to play a significant role in the senior management of the Department as Deputy Secretary General and, along with Aidan O’Driscoll, she will help to lead the vital modernisation process.


“An ambitious timeframe of nine months has been set out to implement the Effectiveness and Renewal Group’s recommendations.  I am confident that the staff of my Department will embrace the opportunities this transformation contains and play an active part in this innovative restructuring of one of the great Departments of State.”


The key recommendation contained in the report addresses the need for a fundamental restructuring of the Department.  There are two stages to this restructuring:



The report has been published today on the Department’s website




Note to Editors:


Full Report here :



  1. Aidan O’Driscoll – short biography


Aidan O’Driscoll joined the civil service in 1977 as an Administrative Officer and subsequently trained as a Policy Analyst in the Department of Finance. He has served in a variety of posts in the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine including Chief Economist from 1995 to 2001 and Assistant Secretary General from 2001 to January 2015 for EU Affairs, Economics and Climate Change.  He was appointed Secretary General in the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine in January 2015. 


He worked in Africa and Asia in a variety of roles with FAO, Irish Aid and a private consulting company from 1985 to 1992 and served in the Irish Embassy, Rome as Agriculture Attaché / Deputy Rep to FAO, WFP and IFAD 1994 – 1995. He was Chairman of the Committee on World Food Security (CFS) 2000-2002.  He has served as a member of the Civil Service Management Board since January 2015.


Education: University College, Dublin; Trinity College, Dublin; University of London (Wye).


Qualifications: BA (Hons) Economics and Politics, MSc Statistics/Policy Analyst, Post Grad Diploma in Environmental Management and MSc Strategic Management.


  1. Effectiveness and Renewal Group Terms of Reference:


  1. To assess progress in implementing the recommendations of the Toland Report; 

  2. To review the culture of the Department, make recommendations for change, particularly in respect of its decision-making and management, prioritisation and communication of information including how and when information is conveyed to the Minister’s office and if the Minister’s office is appropriately resourced in this context; 

  3. To examine in particular, the relationship between the Department and the Gardaí, to ensure that the relationship is appropriately structured, is understood in both organisations and operates in such a way as to ensure accountability and better performance; 

  4. To provide continued external oversight of the implementation of the Toland Report; 

  5. To draw on the expertise of the Commission on the Future of Policing in Ireland and the Policing Authority in conducting its work; 

  6. To provide progress reports to the Government and to the Oireachtas, and to make recommendations with regard to any aspect of its terms of reference. 


  1. Membership of the Effectiveness and Renewal Group: