Simon Harris becomes Ireland’s youngest prime minister

Published April 10, 2024
IRELAND’s President Michael Higgins (left) signs papers proclaiming the appointment of Simon Harris as the country’s new prime minster.—AFP
IRELAND’s President Michael Higgins (left) signs papers proclaiming the appointment of Simon Harris as the country’s new prime minster.—AFP

DUBLIN: Simon Harris on Tuesday became Ireland’s new prime minister, replacing Leo Varadkar after he abruptly quit last month citing personal and political reasons.

Ireland’s parliament voted 88 to 69 in favour of Harris, 37, becoming “taoiseach” — a Gaelic word for “chieftain” or “leader” pronounced “tee-shock”. He was officially installed later at a ceremony with President Michael D. Higgins, becoming the country’s youngest ever prime minister.

The centre-right Fine Gael party — part of a three-party governing coalition — selected Harris as its leader following an uncontested election after Varadkar announced his resignation.

On accepting the nomination on Tuesday, Harris told parliament: “I commit to doing everything that I can to honour the trust that you have placed in me today. “This is very much a partnership government and I intend to lead us in the spirit of unity, collaboration and mutual respect,” he said, watched on by his wife and two children.

“I want to bring new ideas and new energy and, I hope, a new empathy to public life. Time is certainly short, and there’s a lot to do,” Harris added. Vara­dkar, who was in his second stint as prime minister and at 45 was one of Europe’s youngest leaders, said last month that he felt he was no longer the “best person” to lead the country. The outgoing leader, who himself was the youngest taoiseach when first elected in 2017, on Tuesday said that he “always knew” Harris would fill the top job.

Published in Dawn, April 10th, 2024

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