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Dáil's youngest TD to be third Fine Gael candidate in Ireland South

The Wicklow TD will be added to the ticket later today.

Simon Harris
Simon Harris
Image: Laura Hutton/Photocall Ireland

FINE GAEL WILL formally announce the Dáil’s youngest TD, Simon Harris, as the party’s third candidate for the European elections in Ireland South later today.

The party’s executive council is to meet this evening where it is expected that it will formally ratify the decision to run Harris alongside sitting MEP Seán Kelly and Cork-based senator Deirdre Clune.

Kelly and Clune were both selected at a convention earlier this month and the addition of a third candidate had always been expected prior to the Fine Gael Ard Fheis in the RDS this weekend.

Harris declined to comment when contacted this afternoon, saying: “I understand the Fine Gael executive council is meeting tonight and will make a decision on the matter. I will comment further after their meeting.”

The 27-year-old, whose potential candidacy was first reported by TheJournal.ie last November, emerged as the preferred choice among many within the Fine Gael leadership following the surprise decision by former Irish Farmers’ Association (IFA) chief John Bryan to withdraw his name from the running earlier this month.

Harris is a TD for Wicklow and member of the Dáil’s powerful Public Accounts Committee. He was considered an outside choice when his name was first mooted.

But several other potential candidates ruled themselves out, including government chief whip Paul Kehoe. Waterford TD John Deasy, Carlow-Kilkenny deputy John-Paul Phelan, Senator Michael D’Arcy and Harris’s constituency colleague Andrew Doyle.

A number of potential candidates identified the three-candidate strategy as deterring them from seeking the nomination with it unlikely that the party will take three of the four European Parliament seats available.

The three-candidate strategy left Fine Gael needing a Leinster-based candidate to complement the strong support that Kelly and Clune will attract in the Munster part of the vast, 10-county constituency.

Read: Here’s who Fine Gael picked as European election candidates for Ireland South

Read: Fine Gael’s European election strategy is putting off some potential Fine Gael candidates

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Hugh O'Connell

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