‘Back­benchers can’t speak their minds like me’

Bray People - - MIND GAMES -

‘I HAD TO BE­LIEVE (I could get elected). I don't think we could have worked as hard if I didn't,’ said Stephen Don­nelly shortly be­fore step­ping into Dáil Eire­ann last Wed­nes­day.

The In­de­pen­dent TD from Grey­stones came from nowhere to get elected to the fi­nal seat in Wick­low/East Car­low prov­ing wrong all the pun­dits who said it couldn't be done.

‘I am feel­ing very ex­cited and I was feel­ing hugely hugely hon­oured. I think that's my big­gest emo­tion. It is such an hon­our to be here rep­re­sent­ing the peo­ple of Wick­low and East Car­low. We have quite the task ahead of us and it's clear some­thing has to be done. I just have an in­cred­i­ble sense of hon­our that I have been sent up here to rep­re­sent the elec­torate.

‘I came in early this morn­ing and brought by mum Mar­garet and my brother Colm for break­fast. My wife Su­san is here as well. I did an in­ter­view with De­clan Meehan for East Coast FM and an in­ter­view with Ryan Tubridy and here I am.'

With a nod to the sense of oc­ca­sion Stephen was wear­ing a tie for the first day of his new job in the 31st Dáil, and al­though it was blue he laughed off sug­ges­tions it was a tribute to the wave of blue cur­rently sweep­ing the coun­try.

Stephen said he is still get­ting used to get to his new ti­tle of Deputy. ‘ The first time I walked in here I came unan­nounced and I didn't re­ally know what to do. I came in the visi­tor’s en­trance last Tues­day for a meet­ing of the In­de­pen­dents and I just walked up to the glass door. The lady and gen­tle­man who were be­hind the desk just said ‘Hello Deputy Don­nelly' which was great.

‘ Then as I was hav­ing a con­ver­sa­tion with jour­nal­ist Sam Smyth a won­der­ful lady came up to me and said she was the li­ai­son of­fi­cer as­signed to help me set­tle in. She is there to show me the ropes and help me fig­ure out how things work.

‘I got to see all the of­fices. I didn't get my of­fice yet. I think the Gov­ern­ment Chief Whip divvies up the of­fices so there will prob­a­bly be a lot of move­ment around the place for the next few days.'

Stephen said that with 16 deputies join­ing forces to form the tech­ni­cal group they will be al­lowed speak­ing time, ques­tion time and pri­vate mem­bers time.

He said that as a re­sult, ‘ we will have the same abil­ity to chal­lenge' the Gov­ern­ment as other main par­ties.

‘But as an In­de­pen­dent I can say what I like so it re­ally is an amaz­ing po­si­tion. A lot of peo­ple have asked me what in­flu­ence can I bring and that's my an­swer. When I put a ques­tion to the Min­is­ter it must be an­swered. I can speak my mind the way back benchers can't.

‘It is a very ex­cit­ing time and I will en­joy to­day and then get down to busi­ness af­ter that.'

Man­age­ment con­sul­tant with McKin­sey and Com­pany Stephen said he had left his pre­vi­ous life be­hind and is, in fact, tak­ing a pay cut to take up his seat in the Dáil. ‘ I'm gone.'

Thank­fully he didn't have to give no­tice say­ing his em­ploy­ers ‘ knew' that if elected Stephen would be hand­ing in his no­tice.

He also paid tribute to his wife Su­san and all his fam­ily and friends. ‘I have had amaz­ing sup­port from peo­ple,’ he said.

Stephen went on to say that al­though he was more or less writ­ten off by pun­dits he al­ways be­lieved he could take a seat.

‘I think you have to be­lieve. Even though ev­ery peo­ple who knows the sys­tem said we hadn't a hope. At times when you go out in the driv­ing rain and af­ter can­vass­ing for three hours you might have met two peo­ple who said they would vote for you it was clear the size of the task fac­ing us.

‘We only had five weeks to cam­paign and I think you have to be­lieve (you can do it). I don't think I could have worked as hard as I did if I didn't. But cer­tainty in­sid­ers said we hadn't a hope and laughed at us and some­thing we had to dig re­ally deep to keep go­ing.'

Stephen Don­nelly on the first day of the 31st Dáil in Le­in­ster House.

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