Tuesday 22 May 2018

'Age to me is immaterial' - Harris refuses to rule out FG leadership bid

Under pressure: Health Minister Simon Harris. Photo: Gerry Mooney
Under pressure: Health Minister Simon Harris. Photo: Gerry Mooney

Darragh Small

Health Minister Simon Harris has listed the credentials which would make him an ideal candidate to take over as leader of Fine Gael and he has dismissed any suggestion that he would be too young to take charge if the opportunity arose.

Minister Harris, speaking at University Hospital Galway (UHG) today stressed that there was no vacancy at this time.

But he said he had displayed a leadership role throughout his political life and the 30-year old said that his age was not a factor.

“Age to me is immaterial, I look to be judged on my job and the job that I am doing, and I am working as hard as I possibly can at that job,” said Harris.

“I try to provide leadership in whatever role I am given, whether I was Minister for the OPW, Minster for State for the Department of Finance. I am a TD for six years, county councillor before that, and now a member of government as Minister for Health for the last ten months.

“There is no vacancy in the Fine Gael party. If and when one does arise I will consult with colleagues at that point.

“But what people want to know, and I want to do, is to see ministers getting on with the job. When a vacancy arises obviously that vacancy will be filled.

“I have a tendency not to rule anything out until something arises, and I don’t think it would be prudent to rule anything in or rule anything out.

“I am sure there are many colleagues who consider it (leadership).”

Minister Harris was visiting UHG where he announced that the overcrowded accident and emergency department is set for upgrade over the coming months.

The department continues to suffer from overcrowding, with regular ‘code red’ and ‘code black’ status symbols urging patients not to attend the department unless it is absolutely necessary.

“We have now sanctioned the design stage for a new emergency department here at Galway University Hospital,” said Harris.

“It’s the first phase of a very important process to bring about a much needed investment in the emergency department.

“The first thing we need to do is get the design completed. That’s need to be completed in time for the summer.

“And I would hope to be in a position to provide capital as part of the mid-term capital review.”

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