Ireland

Simon Harris ‘very conscious’ of business costs, public safety and housing

The new Fine Gael leader said his ‘obsession’ is policy issues, not personalities.

Fine Gael deputy leader Simon Coveney (left) and Fine Gael leader Simon Harris during a ceremony in Dublin to mark the anniversary of the 1916 Easter Rising
1916 Easter Rising commemoration Fine Gael deputy leader Simon Coveney (left) and Fine Gael leader Simon Harris during a ceremony in Dublin to mark the anniversary of the 1916 Easter Rising (Niall Carson/PA)

Simon Harris has said the costs facing businesses, public safety and housing are among the issues he is “very conscious” of, as he prepares to take over as Taoiseach.

The newly appointed Fine Gael leader has yet to outline his priorities for the three-party coalition government as it nears the end of its term in office.

A vote will be held in the Dail on April 9 on appointing Mr Harris as taoiseach, after which he said he would announce whether Fine Gael ministers will stay or move from their current portfolios.

Justice Minister Helen McEntee told The Sunday Times that she has spoken to Mr Harris and made “no secret of the fact that I want to stay where I am”.



Despite opposition calls for a general election, the public soundings from the coalition party leaders is that the Government is to run its full term.

Speaking at the State commemoration to mark the 1916 Rising, Minister for Transport and Green Party leader Eamon Ryan said that barring “some unforeseen event”, the Government lasting the full term was the most likely option.

The Government term runs until March 2025.

Mr Harris said at the same event: “I’m really continuing to work on developing policy areas that I think we can make progress on in a short period of time ahead.

“I’m very conscious of the fact that we have a programme for government in place, a programme for government between three parties, I’m very committed to that.

“But within that confines, I want to look and see some of the areas in which we can make progress on.

“I’m very conscious of the challenges being felt by small businesses at the moment. I’m very conscious around the cost of doing business in Ireland, particularly for small businesses the length and breadth of the country.

“I’m also conscious of a number of issues around crime and public safety, and obviously the whole area of housing remains the biggest overriding priority for government and society.

“We have our Ard Fheis in Galway in weekend ahead, and that will be an opportunity to begin to flesh out some of those plans and some of the areas that I intend to set as priorities for Fine Gael ministers.”

Asked when he would announce the new Fine Gael Cabinet minister, he said his “obsession” is with policy, not personalities.

“For me, my focus is on delivery and policy, and that’s truthfully where I’m putting my energy in my efforts. And that’s what I’ve asked my team to do. That’s what I’ve asked my colleagues to concentrate on, trying to identify areas where we can make real progress.

“I’m proud of a lot of what this Government has done. I’m also conscious of the fact that there’s a defined period of time left in the lifetime of this Government, and I want to use every day, every week, to make a difference.

“As I said in Athlone last weekend when I was elected leader of Fine Gael, I think people want to see politics delivering for them.

“And I think my duty as a new leader is to identify what those areas are and how we can make progress and what policy levers we have at our disposal.

“So my genuine obsession is on policy and delivery and of course, and I’ll be choosing ministers in due course that I believe are best positioned to advance those policies.”