Origins and establishment of the Department of Finance
In 1922, the Department of Finance took over the functions of the pre-independence Treasury (Ireland) structure including the Finance, Establishment and Supply branches as well as the structures developed by the first Minister for Finance Michael Collins TD.
The development of a Department of Finance represented a general move away from the pre-independence institutions to a more structured civil service in line with the 1922 constitution. These structures, including the formal development of and assigning a role to the Department of Finance and the respective role of Departments and Ministers in the Government of the State were formalised by the Ministers and Secretaries Act, 1924. The role of the Department was set out in that Act as
“The Department of Finance which shall comprise the administration and business generally of the public finance of Saorstát Eireann and all powers, duties and functions connected with the same, including in particular the collection and expenditure of the revenues of Saorstát Eireann from whatever source arising (save as may be otherwise provided by law), and the supervision and control of all purchases made for or on behalf of and all supplies of commodities and goods held by any Department of State and the disposal thereof, and also the business, powers, duties and functions of the branches and officers of the public service specified in the first part of the Schedule to this Act, and of which Department the head shall be, and shall be styled an t-Aire Airgid or (in English) the Minister for Finance”
The role of the Department was further referenced in the Constitution adopted in 1937.
The Department has supported successive Governments in advising on and implementing programmes and policies in the development of specific programmes including the programme for economic expansion in the 1950’s and 1960’s; entry into the EEC and ongoing engagement with European institutions since 1973; and specific ongoing work such as expenditure control and taxation policy in the context of the annual Budget process.
Changes in the Department
The two most significant structural changes for the Department since its establishment were the absorption of the Department of the Public Service in 1987 and the creation of the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform in 2011 with the allocation of functions previously within the Department of Finance to the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform.