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Speech of the Taoiseach-elect, Simon Harris T.D., Nomination as Taoiseach, Dáil Éireann Tuesday, 9th April 2024

9th April 2024 - Simon Harris TD

Ceann Comhairle,

Go raibh maith agaibh as ucht bhur gcuid vótaí.

Buíochas le Peter agus Heather do na focail chineálta.

I accept this nomination to serve as Taoiseach and I commit to doing everything I can to honour the trust so many have shown in me.

I want to thank my own party, Fine Gael, and also our partners in Government, Fianna Fáil and the Green Party, for their confidence, and also the independent TDs who supported my nomination.

This is a partnership government and I will lead it in a spirit of unity, collaboration, and mutual respect.

Today, I want to pay tribute to our outgoing Taoiseach, my colleague and friend, Leo Varadkar.

The history books will record the incredible service he did for our country dealing with some of the biggest challenges of our time, most notably Brexit and the COVID-19 pandemic.

History will also record that he was a trailblazer as we broke free from some of the worst prejudices of the past, showing Ireland at its best to the world.

I also want to pay tribute to my friend and colleague Simon Coveney, who is stepping down as a Minister after serving our country with distinction in so many different roles over so many years.

In particular, we will never forget all that he did during the darkest days of Brexit, and today we acknowledge all he has contributed to our country, and I know that he will continue to contribute.

Today is a very special day for me.

When I started campaigning on issues close to my heart and got involved in politics, I chose this life. My family did not, but through every step of the journey, they have supported me without question.

I want to particularly thank my parents Mary and Bart, who are here today.

They have been my driving force, often making personal sacrifices to ensure the success of their three children.

I hope they can be proud today of their eldest son, because I would not be standing here were it not for them.

I want to thank my sister Gemma and my brother Adam. They are my best friends. We are each other’s biggest supporters. I also want to thank my Nana, who is here today.

My biggest thank you goes to my wife Caoimhe, who is my rock and an incredible mother to our two beautiful children. And lastly to my children Saoirse and Cillian, who mean the absolute world to me:

I promise being your dad will remain my most important job.

It is 13 years since I made my maiden speech in this chamber to nominate Enda Kenny as Taoiseach, someone who went on to fulfil the considerable faith that so many of us had him in, as he led a Government that rescued our economy, and restored our sovereignty.

Back then I reflected on what values I thought were needed for the job in hand: integrity, honesty and a work rate which cannot be surpassed.

As Taoiseach I will demand of myself what I saw as so important then and – to return to the words I spoke that day – I promise ‘to preside over a government committed to public service, at a time when such commitment is so urgently required’.

I believed then that a Taoiseach should work every day to realise ‘the hopes, dreams and aspirations of our people’.  I still do.

Today I accept this new role in a spirit of humility, ready for the challenge, and full of energy and determination about what can be achieved.

As Taoiseach I want to bring new ideas, a new energy, and a new empathy to public life. But politics is not about the office holder. This is not about me; it’s about all of us working together to serve the people.

We as a people, we as a country, have over the last 100 years worked tirelessly together to create our own future.

Collectively, this country can and should be proud of the progress it has made.

The number of people with a job is higher than ever before. The number of people accessing education is amongst the highest in Europe.

But now is an opportune time to build a new social contract – one which renews our promise as a Republic.

To create equality of opportunity.

To support those who need the State the most.

To protect our hard-earned economic success.

To use its benefits to deliver tangible outcomes to society.


Time is short and there is lots to do.

Housing remains the greatest societal and economic challenge of our generation.

Today, I recommit to moving mountains to help build more homes and drive more home ownership.

I will work tirelessly to support the delivery of Sláintecare and will prioritise the delivery of mental health services, and a step change in how we care for our older people.

I want to work with colleagues across the House to deliver real and meaningful reform for people with disabilities.

As Taoiseach, I want to see everyone reach their full potential.

I want to create an Ireland that drives innovation and rewards creativity. An Ireland that is compassionate, tolerant and respectful. A country that gives every child an equal start in life. An Ireland that protects our children’s future by acting decisively on the climate crisis. An Ireland that values community, and rural and regional development.

This is a time of great challenge in the world, a time when leadership matters. In Ukraine we see a brave and courageous people standing firm against unprovoked war and aggression.

In Gaza we are witnessing a humanitarian catastrophe.

We see innocent children, women, and men being starved and slaughtered.

We have not been silent on the unforgiveable terrorist actions of Hamas on October the 7th.

Nor can we be silent on the disproportionate reaction of the Israeli Government.

As a country, we will play our part in bringing about a ceasefire and a lasting peace.

Later this week, I will travel to Brussels and deliver those messages to Europe on behalf of the Irish people. Ireland’s position in Europe is vital to our economic and social success. It is part of our national identity.

Yesterday I met with the First and Deputy First Ministers in Northern Ireland and as Taoiseach I pledge to guard and honour my role as protector and guarantor of the Good Friday Agreement. We have so much more to achieve for all communities on this island.

Ireland must never take peace and freedom for granted.

Our political history has been defined by our quest for freedom.

Freedom of country, freedom of conscience, the freedom to achieve freedom.

Today, in the 21st century, our destiny is to build on these achievements, and provide hope, opportunity, and a better future for all.

This must be our mission, our pledge to the generations to come.

While I am proudly the leader of Fine Gael – I will lead a coalition of three parties – and today I promise to be a Taoiseach for all.

No matter your political persuasion, I will work with you and for you.

I will be a Taoiseach who will listen. My message is simple. I will work every day to improve the lives of all in this country.

Fuelled by hope, and driven by a vision of a better Ireland, I will provide a new leadership, and a new energy, and I will act decisively in the best interests of the people.

Going back centuries, our shared history is more than simply a narrative of oppression and resistance and the courageous triumph over adversity.

It is a story about belief in each other, of faith in the future, a story of hope.    A spirit of optimism sustained us in the darkest of days, and today, once again, we must ensure it lights our way forward.

Let’s not make the mistake of giving in to pessimism and despair about our future.  History has been written in Dáil Éireann many times since January 1919.

We can write it again, by rising above our partisan politics, and working to solve the greatest challenges of our time.

The people expect us to do more; we should demand of ourselves no less.

Go raibh maith agaibh.

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