Irish PM Simon Harris Vows To Bring In New Ideas, Energy     - Vibes Of India

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Irish PM Simon Harris Vows To Bring In New Ideas, Energy    

| Updated: April 11, 2024 11:06

Ireland’s youngest PM ever, faces the challenge of resolving housing issue

Simon Harris, 37, became Ireland’s youngest ever prime minister on Tuesday. He was elected unopposed as the new leader of Fine Gael last month, just days after his predecessor and party colleague, Leo Varadkar, quit. 

Harris was the former health and higher education minister, best known for steering the country’s initial response to Covid-19. He became the 16th person to lead the country of 5.3 million after securing the support from some independent lawmakers, as well as his coalition partners. 

Harris quit university at the age of  20 to work as a political aide. Elected to parliament when he was just 24, he was appointed to cabinet before he turned 30.

New ideas and energy

Harris pledged to bring new ideas and energy to the less than 12 months he has to boost the coalition government’s bid to halt an electoral victory by left-wing Sinn Fein.

“As Taoiseach (prime minister), I want to bring new ideas, a new energy, and a new empathy to public life,” Harris told lawmakers following a parliamentary vote, wiping a tear from his eye before he spoke.

“Now is an opportune time to build a new social contract – one which renews our promise as a Republic. To create equality of opportunity. To support those who need the state the most. To protect our hard-earned economic success. To use its benefits to deliver tangible outcomes to society,” he said.

Serious challenges

Harris faces grave problems like severe shortage of affordable housing and unease at the large number of asylum seekers. An opinion poll on Sunday showed housing remained voters’ top concern.

In a speech at Saturday’s Fine Gael annual conference, Harris spelt out his focus on law and order, helping small business and reconnecting with rural voters. He also pledged to fix the housing crisis “once and for all” – something his predecessors have also promised. 

In her speech proposing the new prime minister, Fine Gael deputy leader Heather Humphreys joked that she mistook the “baby-faced” Harris for a student on a school tour when they both entered parliament for the first time 13 years ago.

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