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Dublin: 2°C Saturday 23 January 2021

Is this the new Minister for August?

Has poor Paschal Donohoe had a holiday yet?

WHILE OTHERS ARE swanning off on their holidays, some government ministers are keeping busy during the quiet summer season.

None more so than Paschal Donohoe, the Minister for Transport, who has been prolifically showing up at public events in recent weeks.

Last week, among other things, he was launching (and pretending to drive) a new set of high-tech Dublin Buses for the capital.

Yesterday, the Fine Gael TD launched plans to open the Phoenix Park tunnel line that will give commuters from Kildare the opportunity to stop at more stations in Dublin.

Phoenix Park Tunnel Source: Jason Clarke Photography

Today, Donohoe was announcing plans to construct a ‘missing’ two kilometre cycleway and pedestrian link between Sutton and Clontarf.

Journalists showed up to ask the minister about everything but that including questions on motor insurance, the sale of Aer Lingus, a possible rail strike, sham marriages (he couldn’t answer that one) and the 9 per cent VAT rate for the tourist industry.

2282 Paschal Source: Sam Boal

The minister’s diary also shows a number of other public engagements in the coming days. In fact, apart from junior minister Simon Harris, he appears to be the only member of government doing public events this week.

So that prompted questions today as to whether he had become the designated ‘minister for August’?

Donohoe wasn’t having it:

One of the things I am struck by is that when ministers are away people say we’re away on holiday then when I am at home, doing my job, I get asked the question: why I’m doing it?

This was perhaps a nod to the criticism Environment Minister Alan Kelly has come in for over being away from his department – but not necessarily work – during the homeless crisis.

Donohoe says that far from having been tasked by the government to go out and bat during the ‘silly season’ he is dealing with a “very, very big portfolio that has a huge amount of different things within it”.

All of that work continues to go on and across August I’ve just been playing a role in making sure that things that my department has to deliver happen. And that work will continue in September, October, November, December, January and then beyond.

But has he got a holiday yet?

“I have,” he said, while probably wishing he was still on it.

As an aside, it seems that even when he’s not doing his ministerial duties Donohoe is writing book reviews:

Read: Is this the only possible government after the next election?

About the author:

Hugh O'Connell

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