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new priorities

Simon Harris to tell FG Ard Fheis that tougher penalties are needed for anti-social behaviour

Harris, who is set to be elected as Taoiseach in the Dáil next week, will give a televised address in Galway at 6.30pm.

TOUGHER PENALTIES ARE needed for those partaking in anti-social behaviour, Fine Gael leader Simon Harris is to tell his party’s Ard Fheis this evening. 

Harris, who is set to be elected as Taoiseach in the Dáil next week, will give a televised address in Galway at 6.30pm. 

The speech at the Ard Fheis in Galway is the first opportunity for Harris to set out his priorities and values as Taoiseach and for the final year of the coalition government.

In his speech, he is expected to confirm the need for additional supports for families, farming and reduced costs for businesses – while reaffirming Fine Gael’s determination to protect the economy, build more houses and invest in health, education and disabilities, and access to childcare.

The Fine Gael leader will place a significant focus on law and order in his address this evening, with a particular focus on the scourge of drugs affecting communities. 

Harris is expected to state that he believes there is a need for tougher penalties for anti- social behaviour.


It is understood that the Middle East and crisis in Gaza will be a prominent feature in the speech.

Housing is another issue that Harris will address in his speech this evening, something Sinn Féin has accused the soon-to-be Taoiseach of being silent on in recent days. 

Speaking to reporters yesterday, Harris hit out at Sinn Féin and their “new-found interest” in him. 

“Sinn Fein is the party that pretends to be in favor of homeownership, while opposing every single measure we bring in to try and help,” he said. 

Harris highlighted that Sinn Féin are in favour of scrapping the Help-to-Buy Scheme, which he said 40,000 families have benefitted from. 

He said he would love to see Sinn Féin’s housing spokesperson Eoin Ó Broin and Sinn Féin leader Mary Lou McDonald “sit down in the kitchen of one of those newly built houses and looked at young couples in the face, and tell them why they don’t believe that that couple wasn’t entitled to some of their own money back”.

“I don’t fear debating them [Sinn Féín]. I’m looking forward to it,” he added. 

Harris also stated that he believes “there’s a real job for this party to reconnect and renew our focus on a number of issues”. 

The farming community “are really hurting at the moment”, he said, stating: “It’s been an absolutely brutal year for farmers because of the weather situation”.

“I’m eager to see how we can support the farming community,” he said. 

No lecturing 

Touching on the issue of climate change, Harris said yesterday that “the science doesn’t lie”.

“We live through a climate emergency… The planet is on fire, the climate emergency is real, and the next generation will never forgive us if we don’t step up.

“However, you don’t fix the climate emergency by lecturing people. You don’t fix the climate emergency by dividing people. You don’t fix the climate emergency by saying it’s a choice between agriculture or the planet,” he said.

“What you do is you help people bring about practical change in the rights, whether that’s through retrofitting, whether it’s making it easier to buy an electric vehicle, whether it’s providing new financial income streams for farmers, so that they can actually continue to produce the food that we feed the world with,” he said. 

Harris said his party will “absolutely” face up to the climate emergency, but said that won’t be done by “lecturing” or “talking down to people”. 


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