Simon Harris is the new leader of Fine Gael following Leo Varadkar's surprise resignation as party leader and Taoiseach last week.

Harris, who was serving as Minister for Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation, and Science, was named the new leader of Fine Gael on Sunday, March 24 after he was the only candidate to put his name forward.

"It is the honour of my life to lead this great party, our great party, Fine Gael," he said on Sunday.

As the new leader of Fine Gael, Harris is set to become Taoiseach on April 9, following the Easter break.

Speaking at a party gathering in Athlone, Co Westmeath on Sunday, Harris said this was a "moment for Fine Gael to reconnect” with the people. He pledged to fight against populist forces in Irish politics.

“I want this party to fight against populism and deliberate polarization,” he said.

Harris said Fine Gael was a “proudly pro-European party". He condemned Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and called for an immediate cease-fire in Gaza.

He said, “There is a hell of a lot to get done in the time ahead."

He pledged to help small businesses, focus on law and order and tackle migration. 

"Under my leadership, Fine Gael stands for supporting businesses, especially small businesses ... Fine Gael stands for supporting the family farm ... Fine Gael stands for law and order, on the side of An Garda Siochána (police), where our streets are safe and crime is never allowed go unchecked."

It is the honour of my life to become the Leader of Fine Gael.

I promise that I will work hard with responsibility, humanity and civility.

I love this country and I will work night and day to keep it safe and deliver for people.

— Simon Harris TD (@SimonHarrisTD) March 24, 2024

Harris will become the leader of Ireland's coalition government, with Fine Gael's partners Fianna Fáil and the Green Party. He has ruled out a general election in 2024.

The 37-year-old is known for steering Ireland through the pandemic as Minister for Health. Harris became involved in politics as what he referred to as an "opinionated, moody teenager" while campaigning for educational support for his autistic brother. Harris will be the youngest Taoiseach in Ireland's history. 

Mary McDonagh, a Fine Gael member, told Reuters: "I do think he has to possibly focus back more on Fine Gael core values," urging Harris to help struggling rural hospitality businesses and "disaffected" farmers.

Michael Ring told RTÉ: "We have been too left for too long,...

"If he doesn't take that opportunity (to make changes), Fine Gael and Simon Harris will pay a big price over the next number of months."