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Simon Harris becomes Ireland’s youngest prime minister at 37

Simon Harris, Irish Minister for Health , was received by Vytenis Andriukaitis, Member of the EC in charge of Health and Food Safety
Simon Harris , to the right, & Vytenis Andriukaitis

Simon Harris became Ireland’s youngest ever prime minister Tuesday, April 9 pledging to bring “new energy” to the role.

Harris, 37, replaces Leo Varadkar who abruptly quit last month citing personal and political reasons.

On Tuesday, Ireland’s parliament voted 88 to 69 in favour of Harris who was then officially installed at a ceremony with President Michael D. Higgins.

The centre-right Fine Gael party selected Harris as its leader following an uncontested election after Varadkar resigned but the young politician faces key elections within months as well as domestic pressure to tackle crises over housing and opposition to migration.

Harris told parliament: “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 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 quit last month saying that at the age of 45 he no longer felt he was the “best person” to lead the country. Varadkar, the youngest prime minister when first elected in 2017, said Tuesday said he “always knew” Harris would fill the top job.

“This has perhaps come a little bit sooner than he might have planned or expected. But I know he will rise to the occasion,” Varadkar said.

“He has the empathy, energy, experience, campaigning skills and political antenna to take us forward.”

Harris joined the youth branch of Fine Gael at the age of 16 and quickly rose through its ranks.

A county councillor at the age of 22, he was elected to parliament in 2011 as a 24-year-old.

At the time he was the youngest MP and was nicknamed “Baby of the Dail” (Irish parliament).

He was appointed health minister in 2016 aged just 29 and higher education minister in 2020.

Also, Harris’ prominence on social media, especially TikTok, has made him one of the most visible politicians in Ireland.

 

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