It is a great privilege to be appointed Minister for Children, Disability, Equality, and Integration.

My hope is that this will be a department that puts the young, vulnerable, and marginalised at the very centre of its work: expanding childcare, ending direct provision, and extending equality to all our citizens.

We have an ambitious programme of work, but I am determined to deliver on the commitments made in the Programme for Government.

I know the positive impact that Minister Zappone and the Department for Children and Youth Affairs had, giving a voice to young people at the Cabinet table, and this is work I intend to continue.

I also look forward to engaging with the wide range of community and voluntary sector organisations, trade unions, and activists that work alongside the department.

I am immensely grateful to everyone who has reached out with supportive messages. We have seen during the COVID-19 lockdown how this country can come together to support one another, and I hope to bring that sense of solidarity to the work of this department.”