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Simon Harris, at the age of 37, became Ireland’s youngest-ever prime minister, taking over from Leo Varadkar, who resigned. Harris pledged to bring new ideas, energy, and empathy to public life, addressing issues such as the housing shortage, rising crime, cost of living, and mass immigration policies. He secured support from independent lawmakers, as well as his Fianna Fáil and Green Party coalition partners in a vote in Ireland’s principal chamber, Dáil Éireann. Harris emphasized building a new social contract, promoting equality of opportunity, supporting those in need, protecting economic success, and delivering tangible outcomes to society.

Harris vowed to be a prime minister for all to improve the lives of everyone in the country, emphasizing hope and optimism for the future. He highlighted the need to rise above partisan politics and work together to address the greatest challenges facing Ireland. At the Fine Gael annual conference, Harris outlined his focus on law and order, supporting small businesses, reconnecting with rural voters, and addressing the housing crisis. He is set to announce a reshuffle of his Fine Gael team in the cabinet, with more than 10 lawmakers choosing not to run for re-election.

The liberal government, led by Harris, is looking to recover after two constitutional amendments he supported were rejected in a referendum vote. These amendments aimed to redefine family and remove language about a woman’s role in the home. Harris’ rise to power coincides with protests against migrant centers and stalling hate speech legislation, while the number of homeless people in Ireland continues to rise. He previously served as Minister for Health, where he passed legislation to reduce alcohol consumption and managed Ireland’s early pandemic response, despite facing criticism for the cervical cancer scandal and costs of the National Children’s Hospital.

Harris’ rise to power has been met with criticism from Sinn Féin leader Mary Lou McDonald, who argues that his election does not represent change. McDonald called for a general election, stating that Harris has been part of the government responsible for issues such as the collapse in home ownership and skyrocketing rents. While Harris faces challenges ahead, including addressing the housing crisis and managing public discontent, he remains optimistic about the future of Ireland. As he settles into his new role, Harris will need to navigate the complexities of Irish politics and work towards fulfilling his promises to the Irish people.

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