Simon Harris may yet bring down Leo Varadkar

Simon Harris may yet bring down Leo Varadkar

Leo Varadkar has a problem or three to be getting on with — there’s Brexit, and all its implications to worry about; the astonishing increase in the cost of the National Children’s Hospital to handle; and the impasse with the striking nurses to address.

He has direct responsibility for dealing with the first problem, but the latter two fall fair-square within the remit of his Minister for Health, Simon Harris.

But, as many government leaders have learned to their cost, to lose one minister is unfortunate, to lose two doubly so, but losing a third would be a signal of such gross incompetence that it could not just threaten the survival of his administration, but the Taoiseach’s own position.

In November 2017, then tánaiste Frances Fitzgerald was forced to resign in order to avoid a snap general election, after Fianna Fáil called for her head over the treatment of Garda whistleblower Maurice McCabe.

Denis Naughten also had to quit in controversial circumstances.

Leo Varadkar can hardly afford to lose a third member of Cabinet.

The position of Harris has now become a political football, with Sinn Féin declaring his tenure untenable and attempting to embarrass Fianna Fail into supporting a motion of no-confidence in him.

The most obvious way to avoid upsetting the support of FF would be for Varadkar to sack Harris, but that is a hat-trick he will do almost anything to avoid.

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