Simon Harris, 37, set to be Ireland’s youngest PM

Mar23,2024



Dublin: simon harrisready to be Irelandsmallest ever taoiseach ,Prime Minister), will hope that his social media skills and new face can save his party's shining fortunes as the elections approach.
Already dubbed by the media “TIC Toc The 37-year-old defeated the previous record holder, predecessor Leo Varadkar, who was 38 when he took up the top job in 2017.
Following Varadkar's shock resignation on Wednesday, Harris moved ahead of the bloc in the race to become leader of the centre-right Fine Gael party and prime minister by default.
By Thursday lunchtime he had won the support of a majority of party colleagues, prompting rivals to dismiss themselves – and effectively ending the leadership contest before it had even begun.
With no other candidates expected to emerge before nominations close on Monday, pundits described Harris's apparently unopposed march as a 'coronation'.
“I'm in, I'm ready to move on, and I'm ready to serve,” he said on public broadcaster RTÉ's evening news program after the official announcement of his candidacy.
meteoric rise
Harris's inevitable election as Taoiseach will crown a meteoric ascent when the Dáil (Irish Parliament) returns from recess on April 9.
Born in 1986, he grew up in the small coastal town of Greystones, near Dublin, the son of a taxi driver.
He left journalism and French college courses in Dublin after a year to concentrate on an already promising politics career.
Harris entered politics by campaigning for autism services for her autistic younger brother and later founded a charity.
He joined Fine Gael's youth wing at the age of 16 and rapidly rose through the party ranks.
A county councilor at the age of 22, he was elected to Parliament in 2011 at the age of 24 – the youngest MP at the time and was given the title of “Baby of the Dáil”.
He was appointed Health Minister in 2016 at the age of just 29.
He told Hot Press magazine in a 2022 interview, “In many ways, my career has been a bit strange,…life came faster than I expected.”
Harris served as health minister for more than four years, including through the Covid pandemic, during which she was praised for her communication skills despite heavy criticism over nursing home deaths and occasional mistakes.
He said he can be a “terrible old idiot sometimes” after commenting that COVID-19 refers to 18 previous coronaviruses rather than the year they first occurred.
He was also embroiled in controversy over new hospital projects, while an opposition vote of no confidence over overcrowding in wards forced Varadkar to call an election in 2020, where Fine Gael slipped to third place.
social media lover
Harris, a father of two and married to a cardiac nurse, has become one of the most visible politicians in Ireland due to his prominence on social media, particularly TikTok.
He has been the Higher Education Minister since 2020 and even critics agree that he is a talented communicator.
With 1.4 million “likes” on TikTok and hundreds of thousands of followers on both X and Instagram, he posts content to his audience almost daily.
Some of his videos and comments have been seen as trying too hard to appeal to the younger generation.
During a stormy parliamentary committee meeting, Harris told the group: “Chillax – I think everyone needs to take a step back here”.
“All young people know what 'chillax' is,” he said in Parliament the next day.
His youth and adept communication skills have led his opponents to taunt that he is “Leo 2.0”, a continuation of a “cosmopolitan” style of politics that is out of touch with the broader electorate.
But for supporters, his enthusiasm could re-energize Fine Gael which is still third in the polls just 10 weeks before local and European Parliament elections and less than a year before the general election.
“He has tremendous energy and huge ambition,” a party aide told the Irish Times newspaper.
“He's cute, clever and clever,” said another.
pmu/phz/ach



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