Simon Harris elected as new taoiseach

Simon Harris elected as new taoiseach
Simon Harris elected as new taoiseach

We show you our most important and recent visitors news details Simon Harris elected as new taoiseach in the following article

Hind Al Soulia - Riyadh - DUBLIN — Simon Harris has been elected as taoiseach (Irish prime minister) by members of the Dáil (Irish parliament).

Harris will now travel to meet President Michael D Higgins where he will be officially installed.

Aged 37, the new Fine Gael leader is the youngest person to ever lead the Republic of Ireland.

His appointment follows Leo Varadkar’s official resignation on Monday.

Harris, who has represented the Wicklow constituency for two decades, was the only candidate to seek the party leadership after Varadkar said he was stepping down in March.

Harris described his election as taoiseach as a “very special day”.

He promised to lead the coalition government in a spirit of “unity collaboration and mutual respect”.

His party is in a coalition government with Fianna Fáil and the Green Party, but a general election is due by March 2025.

Harris said he wants the government to run for a full term, indicating there would be no election any earlier.

Speaking in the Dáil on Tuesday, Sinn Féin president and leader of the opposition Mary Lou MacDonald called for an early election.

She said if the government believes it has the support of the people “then you should go before the people and get that mandate”.

Tánaiste Micheál Martin, leader of Fianna Fáil, said that he and Harris have had a “constructive and positive” meeting alongside the leader of Green Party Eamon Ryan as the leaders of the three party coalition.

“We are three separate parties that seek to work together, respecting both our differences and an agreed approach to the most urgent issues facing our country,” he said.

Green Party leader Eamon Ryan said he disagreed with calls for an early general election because there is work to be done.

Ryan said the strength Simon Harris showed as health minister during the COVID pandemic would stand him in good stead for the challenges ahead as taoiseach.

Representatives of other opposition parties including the Social Democrats, Labour, and People Before Profit all said that a change of government was needed.

Labour Party leader Ivana Bacik said of Harris that “his elevation Tuesday will not deliver the change that we need”.

Social Democrats leader Holly Cairns said Ireland is “facing serious challenges as a country and in order to address them we need new ideas — for that we need a new government”.

Harris was born in 1986 and grew up in the coastal town of Greystones in County Wicklow and is a year younger than Vardadkar was when he became taoiseach in 2017.

He is the eldest of three children, the son of a taxi driver and a special needs assistant.

His younger brother Adam is autistic — a fact which Harris said kickstarted his own involvement in politics when he was 16.

As a schoolboy, Harris attended St David’s Holy Faith Secondary School in Greystones before beginning a degree in journalism and French at Dublin Institute of Technology (DIT).

However, the future minister for further and higher education dropped out of college during the penultimate year of his four-year degree course to pursue politics.

He was first elected as a councilor in 2009 and entered the Dáil in 2011 at the age of 24 — making him the youngest TD in chamber at the time.

He has had a rapid rise through the party ranks, landing his first cabinet role, as health minister in 2016.

The following summer Harris married his long-term girlfriend, children’s cardiac nurse Caoimhe Wade.

His brother Adam was best man at the ceremony. Harris is now father to two children.

As minister for health, he oversaw the republic’s vote to overturn its abortion ban and the country’s cervical cancer screening scandal.

He was also in charge of the initial response to the COVID-19 pandemic, before being replaced when the new coalition government formed in 2020.

Since then Harris has been minister for further and higher education, research, innovation and science, and briefly took on the justice portfolio.

He lives in Wicklow with his young family. In an opinion piece to mark Father’s Day in 2022 he said parenthood was “the most important job I have, and ever will have”.

However, commentators have noted Harris has made no secret of his political ambitions and he was widely tipped as a frontrunner soon after it emerged the job of taoiseach was up for grabs.

On March 20, Leo Varadkar caused shock when he announced he would be stepping down as Fine Gael leader immediately, and would resign as taoiseach as soon as his successor was selected.

He said he was resigning for “personal and political reasons” and was no longer the best person for the job.

His last official engagement as taoiseach was at the North-South Ministerial Council (NSMC) in County Armagh on Monday.

Varadkar’s resignation paved the way for a party leadership contest, but as he headed the current coalition government in Dublin, his successor was also expected to take over as taoiseach. — BBC

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