Politics watch: Harris to face opposition, referendum may be pushed back

Politics Watch: Harris To Face Opposition, Referendum May Be Pushed Back
Here, we have a look at the topics that will dominate political discourse in the week to come. Photo: PA Images
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James Cox

Here, we have a look at the topics that will dominate political discourse in the week to come.

Taoiseach to face opposition

Simon Harris has no time to settle into the Taoiseach's office, he's a man in a hurry.


Testy exchanges with opposition parties, particularly Sinn Féin leader Mary Lou McDonald, can be expected, despite being delayed by a week.

Ms McDonald went straight for the jugular, accusing Mr Harris of dodging his duties due to the lack of Leaders' Questions this week.

She subsequently posted a video outside the Dáil criticising him for 'not showing' for work.

However, a video from Mr Harris at the same time explained he had been at his desk since 7.50am.


He missed the Dáil sitting due to calls with UK prime minister Rishi Sunak, Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelenskiy, and Northern Ireland First Minister Michelle O'Neill, and Deputy First Minister Emma Little-Pengelly.

Mr Harris was then in Brussels to meet other European leaders.

The reaction from the opposition will give Mr Harris a taste of what is in store next week, when calls for a general election from opposition parties are likely to intensify.

Delayed referendum?

The referendum on the Unified Patent Court (UPC) may be pushed back from June, when it was scheduled to go ahead along with the local and European elections.


The Agreement on a Unified Patent Court (UPCA), providing for the setting up of an International Court between contracting states, was signed in February 2013 by 25 EU Member States, including Ireland.

An amendment to Article 29 of the Constitution to add the UPC Agreement as an international agreement to the Constitution would be required before Ireland could join the UPC, as it entails a transfer of jurisdiction in patent litigation from the Irish courts to an international court.

A Yes vote would mean Irish patents would be valid in the 17 EU member states that have signed up to the UPC system.

While the question is far less emotive than the recent family and care referendums, there is said to be reluctance within Government to hold another referendum so soon.


This could well backfire though, as it could bring debate about the resounding No vote in the family and care referendums back into the spotlight ahead of the local and European elections in June.


The hush money trial involving Donald Trump's alleged payment to adult movie star Stormy Daniels kicks off on Monday.

This will be an unwelcome distraction for the former US president as the 2024 presidential campaign looms in November.

Mr Trump's hardline immigration stance is something he will double down in at rallies in the coming weeks, according to sources.

Meanwhile, US president Joe Biden's attention continues to primarily be on the Israel-Hamas war.

He had previously put pressure on Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu to rein in Israel's attacks on Gaza, but has reaffirmed US support for Israel amid reports of a potential attack on the country from Iran.

In the UK, prime minister Rishi Suank has indicated Britain could leave the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR) if his Rwanda policy is blocked.

Meanwhile, his speculation continues to mount over when he will call a general election, which his Conservative party looks set to lose convincingly to Labour.

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