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Dublin: 5 °C Wednesday 11 December, 2019
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'People have been fairly sound': What Michael Fitzmaurice learned on his first week in the Dáil

We caught up with the new TD for Roscommon-South Leitrim towards the end of his first week in Leinster House.

Michael Fitzmaurice delivering his maiden speech in the Dáil on Tuesday evening
Michael Fitzmaurice delivering his maiden speech in the Dáil on Tuesday evening
Image: Oireachtas TV

MICHAEL FITZMAURICE WAS elected to the Dáil on a Saturday and by Monday he was in Leinster House as the new TD for Roscommon South-Leitrim.

It was a whirlwind week where the Budget dominated much of the proceedings. But while still finding his feet Fitzmaurice gave a passionate and well-thoughout speech on the measures announced by Michael Noonan last Tuesday.

There’s already a view taking shape around Leinster House that the 55-year-old farmer will be here for many years to come with boundary changes for the next general election set to benefit him in addition to his pledge to work tirelessly for his constituents.

TheJournal.ie caught up with Ming’s man towards the end of his first week in the Dáil to see what he made of it all…

The commute isn’t ideal 

“I’ve been coming up and down every day. I will get somewhere though. I’ll go out maybe tomorrow for a B&B or anything like that. It’s just for the two or three nights that I’d be here. It takes about two hours ten minutes [from his home to Dublin], so nearly a four-and-a-half hour round trip. On Monday night it was 1.30am before I got home. I was up here again for 2.30pm the next day.”

He had to wait for an office

“We’re just after getting an office, we haven’t our computer or phone line set up yet. We’re waiting on that.”

But that doesn’t stop work getting done

“We have one office down there that was given to us, but we hadn’t computers in it or phones or anything. I’m doing my paperwork and I am working off the mobile phone. I’ve the mobile phone and I can use the internet on it. I am dealing with people’s issues at the moment. Life goes on, whether you have a computer or not, simple as that. And you can do a certain amount obviously on the phone.

It’s bigger than he thought 

It’s fairly big first of all. Second of all, there’s a lot of people that work around here, 400 and something odd people. That surprised me as well.”

The people are nice

“People have been fairly sound to me. I wouldn’t know a lot of the TDs or Ministers or whatever and in fairness everyone one of them has come up and welcomed me.”

He’s getting the hang of it

“Lookit, you get lost and you find yourself again, but I am getting into the hang of it. I’ve got two slots already on speaking time, another slot today and I suppose it’s a learning process for the first week or that. But people in fairness have been nice to me and sure lookit it’ll probably take another week before we’re fully set up and on the road.”

gerry-13 Being introduced in the Dáil on Tuesday Source: Oireachtas TV

First impressions are that things need to change 

“The whole Dáil system needs to change, to be quite honest with you. I’d be more in favour of a system where everyone has a good input and be it the Taoiseach or the Minister that brings in certain legislation that there’s no whip system and that you know it can be tweaked or whatever to suit and that way you get a consensus. I’d be a person that questions everything in the line of: Is it efficient? Is it workable? Do we need to do something different? I believe we do.”

Back on the farm, life goes on… 

“The farm is going ahead, I’d have guys employed. Obviously at the weekend I’ll be able to get a quick look at it. It’s about juggling the balls a bit higher in the air.”

Inside Leinster House: Giddy government backbenchers embrace the end of austerity…

Tough crowd: New TDs get 10 minutes of glory before Noonan unveils ‘Turning Point’ Budget

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About the author:

Hugh O'Connell

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