At today’s Cabinet meeting in Cork, Mr Justice Ronan Keane was announced as the new Chief Justice, while speculation continued over Thursday’s reshuffle.

Mr Justice Ronan Keane was born in 1932 and has been a Judge since 1979. He was educated at Blackrock College and UCD before entering King's Inn. He was called to the bar in 1954 and took silk in 1970. He was appointed to the Supreme Court in 1996. He headed the Stardust inquiry and is also a former head of the Law Reform Commission. Speaking this afternoon, Mr Justice Keane said that he was conscious of the extremely daunting responsibility he was undertaking and that he hoped the confidence placed in him was justified. The Government also announced the appointments to the Supreme Court of Ms Justice Catherine McGuinness, formerly a judge of the High Court, and Adrian Hardiman, Senior Council.

The decision of the Cabinet to come South was dictated by the promise to meet the Southern and Eastern Regional Association and to hold consultative sessions on Economic and Social infrastructure and Employment.

The Taoiseach, Bertie Ahern, confirmed today that he will announce the changes in his Cabinet on Thursday. Mr Ahern said that he would not "make these changes for the sake of change" and described the Cabinet as a hard working group of people. Speaking after today's meeting, he would not confirm that Brian Cowen would take over David Andrews's job at Foreign Affairs. It is rumoured that Micheál Martin is on his way to the Department of Health, an area where the Government knows it needs to do a lot to assuage public anger at the quality of service before the general election and to give him broader ministerial experience. That requirement might also see moves for Dermot Ahern and John O'Donoghue. However it now seems unlikely that Seamus Brennan will move. Another factor in the Taoiseach's judgement may be whether Ministers are likely to step down at the next election. This could dictate some changes at junior level.

The Government has announced the appointment of Mr Dermot Gallagher as Secretary General to the Department of the Taoiseach from the first of May. Mr Gallagher who is currently Second Secretary General at the Department of Foreign Affairs will succeed Mr Paddy Teahon who is retiring. A former Ambassador to Washington, Dermot Gallagher, played a key role in the negotiations leading up to the Good Friday Agreement.