Simon Harris is nothing if not precocious. The 31-year-old Irish health minister was briefly tipped as a contender for the leadership of his center-right Fine Gael party earlier this year before he ruled himself out, saying he didn’t have enough experience.
But Harris is no political ingénue: He was the only minister not to back the winner, now-Prime Minister Leo Varadkar, and still keep his job.
“It’s not for me to guess why he did that,” Harris, a slight figure with a rapid-fire delivery, says with a laugh. “There’s a very exciting dynamic now in Irish politics…”
Minister for Health Simon Harris’s inclusion at Number 15 in the Politico class of 2018
Ellen Coyne, in The Times Ireland edition, reports:
Simon Harris has published a new proposal designed to crack down on rogue crisis pregnancy agencies.
The Health and Social Care Professionals Act will include plans for a 13-person board to set minimum standards for the profession in early 2018. The department of health told The Times that counsellors who claim to offer objective advice to pregnant women will also be included.
The health minister said in September last year that he wanted to legislate against anti-abortion groups posing as crisis pregnancy counsellors.
His move followed an investigation by The Times that revealed groups told women that abortion caused breast cancer and could turn them into child abusers.
Crisis pregnancy agencies not in receipt of state funding are not regulated by the HSE. The government said that it would fix the anomaly several times over the past year but repeatedly missed its own targets for doing so.
A 25-page report on the terms of agreement between the National Maternity Hospital, Holles Street and St Vincent’s Hospital Group – as written by mediator Kieran Mulvey – have been published by Health Minister Simon Harris.
It comes a week after the Irish Times reported that the Religious Sisters of Charity would be sole owners of the new hospital.
Read the report on the terms of agreement in full here
Minister for Health Simon Harris with middle pic, from left: St Vincent’s Chief Operating Officer Kay Connolly and Dr Rhona Mahony, Master at Holles Street, with a model of St Vincent’s University Hospital and how the new National Maternity Hospital might fit into the existing complex in Mount Merrion. Plans were submitted to An Bord Planeala today.
The day you slithered from the womb
the Doctor held you aloft, confirmed what we’d feared:
“Madam, it’s a potential Minister for Health.” And newborn you
screamed what we later understood to mean:
“bring me your perforated eardrums, your infected urinary tracts, and I will set up a committee to look in them.”
But this most recent birth wasn’t the beginning.
Since shortly before time officially began,
you’ve dragged yourself across the top soil.
You were present and correct to brush the dandruff
off the Lord Mayor’s hat each time he visited
the municipal Home for Unfortunate Women
whose babies had to be flogged
to couples named Barbara and Algernon,
so as to be prudent with the Parish’s pennies.
You were on hand to personally present
the late archbishop with his fifth chocolate biscuit,
last time he visited the much maligned
School for The Blind, which used to be
where the town abattoir now stands.
And it was written
in lines later deleted from the Book of Judges
that it would be you who’d flood
our hospitals with avant-garde urologists
who instead of the traditional
(and far more costly) balloon catheter,
and ultrasonic stone disintegration apparatus,
prefer more radical treatments involving
a fishing rod and an electric hair straightener.
Your upcoming marriage the usual
confidence and supply arrangement
you’ve had every other century.
Your fingers are starving worms
patiently awaiting their moment.
Minister for Health Simon Harris speaks to reporters after giving an address to the Health Enterprise Alliance Symposium.
Mr Harris continues to deal with the fallout of the RTÉ Investigates programme on Monday that revealed the HSE operate at least two other waiting lists not published by the National Treatment Purchase Fund, the body responsible for putting together list data.
“The personal stories of the people waiting for treatment are deeply moving and the experiences they describe are absolutely inexcusable.
“I am keenly aware of this burden and it is for this reason that last summer I requested that the HSE put in place an Action Plan to halve the number of patients waiting over 18 months for treatment….
“However, I think it is important to note that, while there are still too many people who have to wait too long for their treatment, as of last December, only 2% of patients were waiting longer than 18 months for treatment. 93% were receiving treatment within 15 months and over half were receiving treatment within 6 months.”
Minister for Health Simon Harris (top) on last night’s RTÉ Investigates (above) programme on overcrowding in Irish hosptials