Simon Harris becomes Ireland’s youngest Taoiseach…

What was most surprising about Leo Varadkar’s resignation was how few of his colleagues were keen to take his place. My money would have been on Simon Coveney to take his place. I have met Simon, and he came across as a very capable, down-to-earth guy who was genuinely interested in the North. Not only did he not want the top job in politics, but he also decided he had had enough of politics, full stop, and is not running again.

The consensus among the top candidates seemed to be, ‘Nah, we are good; Simon can do it’.

So, without any competition, Simon Harris got the top job. But who is he? Will his time as Taoiseach be short?  As Harry McGee points out in the Irish Times:

John Bruton, Micheál Martin and Albert Reynolds were all in the office for roughly two-and-a-half years. If Harris is not elected as Taoiseach again, his term in office could be anything between six months and eleven months.

Simon Harris gets criticised for being a career politician with no real-world experience. He did not even finish his degree, choosing instead to drop out and take a job as a parliamentary assistant to an Irish senator. From there, he climbed the greasy ladder of politics, culminating in the top job at only 37.

He had mixed success as a minister and has a reputation for being ‘high on platitudes, low on detail’. The ‘Tiktok Taoiseach’, more concerned with image than policy.

So expectations are low for the new guy, but maybe he might surprise us all. When people discount you, it might incentivise him to be brave. Will he make his mark or be the answer to a future pub quiz question about the shortest Taoiseach in power?

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