Thursday 22 March 2018

Gay Byrne: Simon Harris 'leaves me gasping in admiration'

Kevin Doyle

Kevin Doyle

Broadcaster Gay Byrne has used his radio show to declare that junior minister Simon Harris “leaves me gasping in admiration”.

The country’s most senior broadcaster paid an extraordinary homage to the Dáil’s youngest TD on his Lyric FM programme today, describing him as “a smart young cove”.

“He’s very, very impressive. He has an answer for everything. He’s afraid of nobody.

“And because he has a tongue fast enough to stay with his extremely agile mind there is a never a hesitation when he speaks. It comes out at least 200 words a minute, at least 200 words a minute,” Mr Byrne (81) said.

The presenter, who is back at work having suffered a heart attack over Christmas, said he has never met the 29-year-old and doesn’t know anything about his background.

“But he’s a smart young cove and probably one of the best speakers on television and radio if you want to speak like an AK47.

“It strikes me that he has a furiously agile mind and unusual for someone in public life in Ireland he has a tongue to go with it,” Mr Byrne said.

“And there is never an ‘eh’ or an ‘ah’ or an ‘hmm’ or a ‘like’ or ‘you know’ or a hesitation. No hesitation of any kind anywhere. Bang, bang, bang, bang.”

Mr Harris’s profile has increased significantly in recent weeks as he travelled the country visiting towns affected by flooding in his role as minister with responsibility for the Office of Public Works.

He also been asked by Taoiseach Enda Kenny to take a lead role in formulating Fine Gael’s economic policy for the next five years alongside Finance Minister Michael Noonan and Jobs Minister Richard Bruton. 

During a lengthy monologue, Mr Byrne said that some people have told him the Minister for State at the Department of Finance is up and coming.

“I don’t think he’s up and coming, I think he’s already there. A smart young cove, I repeat, and one to watch,” he said.

“He leaves me gasping in admiration. As for the party line, boy does he know the party line and deliver it. But that’s ok. That’s expected. He’s a political party guy.

“Anyway I’ve been watching him. You should watch him. He’s a contract to so many of his colleagues. There’s a contrast to so many people who regularly come up,” Mr Byrne said.

“If you just listen to ‘Morning Ireland’ any morning and the number of people representing, these are the captains of industry, coming on to tell how good their company is and how returns are good this year and everything is fantastic.

“‘Eh, eh, eh’, ‘like, like, like’, ‘you know, you know, you know’. All kinds of things and hesitation.

“They are incapable of speaking in a cogent and uninterrupted way. Simon is completely different,” Mr Byrne concluded. 

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