MY NAME IS Cian O’Connor; I am 23 years old and live in Dundrum, Dublin.
On 4 April I was asked to take part in a video for the IASE (the Irish Association of Supported Employment) job shadow initiative with An Taoiseach Mr Enda Kenny in Leinster House. Mr Kenny asked me that night if I would be interested in shadowing him on Wednesday 25 April for job shadow day.
On 24 April I was interviewed by RTE Radio One in Pinocchio’s Restaurant, where I work part-time. The next day I heard myself on the radio and it was great.
Later that morning I met with my job coach Yvette and we went into the Taoiseach’s Office in Leinster House. We met with one of the staff, Marie, who brought us upstairs to the Taoiseach’s Office.
I met with the Taoiseach and helped to carry his briefcase on the way to the Dail for Leaders’ Questions and Order of Business. He introduced me to lots of TDs and introduced me to the Dail and explained why I was there. Everyone clapped and said ‘HEAR HEAR’. I sat in the gallery with Yvette and Marie and watched how he worked.
After the Dail finished we went for tea and then I met with lots of staff who work in his office.
He invited me to attend lots of meetings; I met with the Irish Farmers Association, a group from Kerry and spoke with the Lord Mayor of Kerry. I also met with Billy Lawless and Pat Byrne from America. I had my photo taken with a group from Colaiste Mhuire School in Ennis and a Special Olympics group.
The Taoiseach presented me with a pair of cufflinks and we had a photo taken, and I sat in his chair – I think it suited me.
We then went into the Italian Room for a photo shoot and an interview with RTE 1. I helped launch an ‘Employers Guide to Supported Employment’.
My highlights of the day was spending time with the Taoiseach, watching how he stood up to Michael Martin in the Dail, going to his meetings, sitting in his chair in his office and being on TV and radio.
I was overwhelmed that An Taoiseach was able to spend so much time with me during his busy day and will remember this experience for the rest of my life.
I now work part time in Pinocchio’s Restaurant in Ranelagh as a result of last year’s Job Shadow Initiative. I am supported by my Job Coach; Yvette Ebbs from STEP and St John of God Community Services.
The IASE (Irish Association of Supported Employment) promotes and develops supported employment at a national level, in support of people with a disability. See IASE.ie for more information.