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Mr Harris was the early favourite with many bookmakers.

He had garnered a healthy roster of backers before nominations even opened.

Mr Harris said he was “humbled and honoured to have received the support from so many members of the parliamentary party, councillors and members.

“I want to thank them for placing their trust in me and I am confirming that I will be seeking to become the next leader of Fine Gael.”

“If given the opportunity, I will give this my all,” he added.

Before announcing his intention to run for the leadership, Mr Harris praised outgoing Leo Varadkar for his leadership of the party over the past seven years, and for his leadership of the country.

Mr Harris said that if appointed leader of the party, he wants to bring “energy and an enthusiasm” to the role.

“I also want to bring my practical life experience,” he added.

“I want to work with colleagues, I want to listen, I want to really reconnect with our party right across the country. I want to get back to core principles,” Mr Harris said.

Mr Harris was the youngest member of the 31st Dáil (lower house of Irish parliament) at the age of 24 and became health minister in 2016.

There he led the department during a change in Ireland’s abortion law and at the start of the Covid-19 pandemic as emergency lockdown measures were introduced.

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