Sunday 18 February 2018

Back to business for Harris

Mary Fogarty

Simon Harris was back to business as usual last week, just hours after losing out on a seat in Europe by a nose.

Simon Harris was back to business as usual last week, just hours after losing out on a seat in Europe by a nose.

It was a comfortable situation to be in for the Greystones man, who loves being a TD although he would have embraced a new role of MEP with characteristic enthusiasm.

There has been much speculation that a Junior Ministry awaits, given his more-than-respectable performance.

'I only know what I read in the newspapers!' he said. 'I've had no indication. Of course I'm ambitious. The people of Wicklow wouldn't be well served if I wasn't, but that (a Junior Ministry) is something which is entirely in the gift of the Taoiseach.'

Speaking of the Taoiseach, we asked if he'll be following his lead and dancing to Pharrell Williams' 'Happy.' 'I'll leave the dancing to him, he's got better moves than me!' he said.

'I'm very grateful to the people of Wicklow, it's very humbling,' said Simon, on a landslide vote from the Garden County.

Meanwhile, it's back to the Dáil for Harris.

He got home from Cork close to midnight last Tuesday following defeat, and returned to work early the following morning.

Was he disappointed? No, according to Deputy Harris. 'I was asked to run and was happy to run, but being elected a TD has been the greatest honour of my life,' he said.

Business beckons and according to Simon, there is a huge amount to be done. 'When I was running the economy was at risk,' he said. Now that the light at the end of the proverbial tunnel approaches, there is a little space to concentrate on other important issues.'

His raison d'etre, politically speaking, was always working for people with disabilities having entered politics following activism for autism.

His other high priority items include mental health services and job creation. An election will be held by April or May 2016 at the very latest, however, Harris said campaigning as such is not on his agenda at the moment.

'I'm an incumbent so if I do my job well, I'll be judged on that,' he said.

He's less wet around the ears at 27 as when elected to Wicklow County Council at 22, however, one wonders if life as a TD and in the public eye cramps the style of a young man.

'I'm reluctant to complain,' he said. 'I have a job, in Ireland, and while it is demanding on time and personal life I love it. I'm lucky to have a very good close circle of friends.'

He added that he's used to it now, having spent most of his adult life as an elected representative.

The people tended to turn away from major parties in the local elections, if not the Europeans. 'We took a kicking in the local elections. The message was sent and we have to learn from it.'

On his canvassing trek between Dingle and Bray, Simon heard consistently that while people are aware that the economy is recovering they haven't yet felt the benefits; that people feel financially squeezed; and that the discretionary medical card handling was very unpopular.

Bray People

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