Hot Press - - Cover Story - In­ter­view: Ja­son O’Toole Pho­tog­ra­phy: Miguel Ruiz

n his wrst maor na­tional in­terÛiew, ianna ail / ,obert /roy opens up about his men­tal health strug­gles, and also talks about his run-ins with Shane Ross, teenage strip‡club Ûisits, porn, re­li­gion – and drink-driv­ing in his youth.

Fianna Fail’s ROBERT TROY first made head­lines in 2016, when dur­ing a Dáil de­bate he dis­cussed suf­fer­ing from anx­i­ety and panic at­tacks. In his first ma­jor na­tional in­ter­view, the Long­ford-West­meath TD opens up fur­ther about his men­tal health strug­gles after the last elec­tion; talks about his run-ins with Shane Ross; and be­ing ‘snubbed’ by Leo Varad­kar. Plus he dis­cusses teenage strip-club vis­its, porn, re­li­gion – and drink-driv­ing in his youth.

Aman with a lot on his plate these days, Robert Troy is look­ing for­ward to putting his feet up over the Christ­mas break. As well as dart­ing back and forth be­tween his Long­ford-West­meath con­stituency and Le­in­ster House, the 36-year-old is also do­ing an MA in Busi­ness and Fi­nance at the In­sti­tute of Pub­lic Ad­min­is­tra­tion. “It is very dif­fi­cult do­ing the job and, at the same time, try­ing to study for a Mas­ters,” the Fianna

Fáil front­bench spokesper­son on Trans­port, Tourism and Sport says. “But I’ve got through the first year. It took me two years, but I did it in such a way to give my­self that lit­tle bit more room. I’m now do­ing the sec­ond and fi­nal year. Again, it’s go­ing to take me two years. But that’s okay.”

The paucity of time ex­plains why we had to talk dur­ing Troy’s hour­long jour­ney back home to Mullingar. The TD was vis­it­ing his dy­ing aunt, which clearly had him in a very re­flec­tive mood.

Troy first came to na­tional promi­nence back in 2016, when he stood up in the Dáil and re­vealed dur­ing a de­bate that he suf­fered from anx­i­ety and panic at­tacks. That aside, how­ever, very lit­tle is known about him. In­deed, this Hot Press In­ter­view is his first ma­jor sit-down with a na­tional pub­li­ca­tion…

Ja­son O’Toole: What type of char­ac­ter were you grow­ing up?

Robert Troy: I was a bit spoilt, but, at the same time, a bit re­bel­lious, be­cause I could get away with more than my elder sib­lings. I was the youngest of 12, and I cer­tainly pushed the bound­aries a lot fur­ther than my older brothers or sis­ters.

Ruth Cop­pinger said she was one of 12 too in her Hot Press In­ter­view ear­lier this year. Such big fam­i­lies are very un­usual now.

I was the youngest – there was a 20-year gap be­tween my­self and the el­dest.

Did your mother stay at home, with so many chil­dren?

My mother was a full-time worker – she was a teacher and school prin­ci­pal. She had one of my brothers on a Fri­day and was back work­ing Mon­day (laughs). There wasn’t the ma­ter­nity and pa­ter­nity leave that’s avail­able now. My fa­ther was a lo­cal shop­keeper and post­mas­ter for a time. He also worked as a farm man­ager for a while. So, both my par­ents worked full-time. They had to, be­cause all of us went to board­ing school. Most of us went to third level at a time when there was no such thing as free third level.

Did you have a very re­li­gious up­bring­ing?

Yeah. My mother is very con­ser­va­tive. And so is my fa­ther, prob­a­bly not as con­ser­va­tive as my mother. I served mass and all of us went to re­li­gious-run schools. Still, we’d have a very mixed fam­ily: a priest, an athe­ist, non-be­liever, non-prac­tis­ing and some prac­tis­ing. At the end of the day, you make the choice in terms of what way you want to lead your life. I would be a per­son of faith my­self.

Do you be­lieve in the Vir­gin Mary?

Which of us knows how earth was cre­ated, re­ally and truly? Did the chicken or egg come first? It’s part of the re­li­gion. If you look at hu­man na­ture, a woman can’t be­come preg­nant with­out in­ter­course. So, you’d ques­tion it – but it’s part of the be­lief and I sup­pose I do… I ac­cept it, put it that way.

Even though it doesn’t sound log­i­cal, you still ac­cept it?

It may not sound log­i­cal, but I don’t know how the world was cre­ated. There is an ul­ti­mate cre­ator. He’s maybe all-pow­er­ful, tran­scends all hu­man be­ings. There’s some­thing big­ger out there, so maybe he has the power to do that. I don’t know. But it’s not some­thing I go to sleep ev­ery night won­der­ing: was the Vir­gin Mary re­ally a vir­gin.

What about Noah’s Ark – would you ac­cept that as be­ing true as well?

Of course it could rain for 30 days and 30 nights. Sure many-a-time in Ire­land, it fuck­ing rains for 30 days con­sec­u­tively. Now, we didn’t need Noah’s Ark to get out of it. But, of course, it could be true.

So Noah’s Ark could be a true story? You don’t dis­pute it?

It could be.

You ba­si­cally take the Bi­ble as gospel?

Like any writ­ing, there may be ex­ag­ger­a­tions – but, for the most part, yes. Do I be­lieve the Bi­ble? Do I ac­cept it? Yes.

Danny Healy-Rae told me Noah’s Ark was proof God is in charge of the weather.

Look, sure, if Danny be­lieves that, isn’t he en­ti­tled to his be­liefs?

He is – but do you be­lieve God is in charge of the weather?

Some­body cre­ated the world. But we have a re­spon­si­bil­ity to re­spect the world and to ac­knowl­edge that our ac­tions have con­se­quences for the world. We’ve the ben­e­fit of it, and we have to pro­tect it and leave it in a proper con­di­tion for the next gen­er­a­tion. So, to try and al­le­vi­ate your re­spon­si­bil­ity in terms of the en­vi­ron­ment by say­ing

“I think if you mur­der some­body you put them out of their mis­ery. But, I think, if you abuse a child or sex­u­ally as­sault or abuse some­body, you’re scar­ring them for life.”

that the man above is re­spon­si­ble is a cop-out. He may be­lieve that there’s an ul­ti­mate cre­ator – I do too. But I also be­lieve that we have a re­spon­si­bil­ity.

Do you be­lieve in aliens?

I don’t think so.

Why not?

Be­cause John Hal­li­gan does! That’s a good enough rea­son not to be­lieve in them.

You ob­vi­ously be­lieve in heaven…

I cer­tainly be­lieve there’s a next life. I hope the next life is a place that we’ll get to meet our loved ones who are de­parted. I lost a sis­ter 21 years ago – she was only 34. I lost a brother 10 years ago. My sis­ter had lung can­cer and she never smoked a day in her life. My brother had tes­tic­u­lar can­cer, which moved up to his pan­creas. I’d like to think I’ll meet them again. Maybe the loss of my sis­ter and brother helped deepen my faith in the hope and be­lief that I’ll meet them again.

Did your sib­lings have any chil­dren?

My sis­ter had four chil­dren. Her two el­dest girls were twins. The first of them got mar­ried in Au­gust. So, that was a big fam­ily oc­ca­sion. It was a very emo­tional day for my par­ents, be­cause it was their first grand­child and it was also their first child’s child – and she wasn’t there.

It must’ve been tough los­ing two sib­lings.

I was only 14 when my sis­ter died. My mother was the school prin­ci­pal and she went back to do her Mas­ters when I was nine or 10, and I would’ve spent a lot of week­ends with my sis­ter when she was in St Pat’s do­ing her course. My sis­ter was a teacher in Bray. She was like a sec­ond mother to me – we were very close.

What’s your po­si­tion with re­gard to the Dáil prayer?

If the Busi­ness Com­mit­tee de­cided to scrap the prayer, it wouldn’t worry me: if I want to say a prayer I’ll say it – I don’t need to say it on the floor of the Dáil. I wouldn’t cam­paign to scrap it and I wouldn’t cam­paign to re­tain it. It’s a sideshow re­ally.

Did the Church get off lightly on the pay­ments in re­la­tion to child sex abuse?

I think cer­tainly they could pay more. They have the ca­pac­ity to make greater con­tri­bu­tions and that should be ex­ploited and used. But I don’t be­lieve ei­ther, on the flip­side, that the Church should be left pen­ni­less ei­ther.

The Church has a huge land-bank – would it not be a good idea to req­ui­si­tion a lot of that?

That’s what I’m say­ing, like. I mean, where they have ca­pac­ity and where they have wealth in their or­gan­i­sa­tion, they should use that wealth to make con­tri­bu­tions.

Is mur­der a greater sin than sex­ual abuse?

I think if you mur­der some­body you put them out of their mis­ery. But, I think, if you abuse a child or sex­u­ally as­sault or abuse some­body, you’re scar­ring them for life. The per­son that you mur­der is gone and, hope­fully, as I say, in a bet­ter place, at peace. Ob­vi­ously their fam­ily is dis­traught. But if you sex­u­ally as­sault, re­move the in­no­cence of a child, I think, it’s the ul­ti­mate crime.

Ruth Cop­pinger said in her Hot Press In­ter­view that the next big agenda is the sepa­ra­tion of Church and State.

I’ve no prob­lem with the sepa­ra­tion of Church and State. None what­so­ever. I don’t be­lieve we need to have them in­te­grated. I

ac­tu­ally would wel­come a sepa­ra­tion of Church and State. It would make for a much stronger Church be­cause, I be­lieve, the peo­ple go­ing to church then are do­ing so out of free­dom of con­science – and not be­cause it’s im­posed on them.

What way did you vote in the Eighth Amend­ment?

I voted to re­peal it. I have to say, I thought long and hard about it. In terms of re­peal­ing the Eighth, I would have no is­sue in terms of fa­tal foetal ab­nor­mal­i­ties, in­cest and rape. Other ar­eas I’m un­com­fort­able with it. But when it came down to it, I asked my­self the ques­tion: ‘By vot­ing no, would it pre­vent one ter­mi­na­tion?’ And I then I said, ‘No, be­cause what it does is, it vic­timises women and it forces them to go abroad.’ While I had con­cerns about the 12-week na­ture, I ul­ti­mately came down with the de­ci­sion to vote Yes.

How did you vote in the mar­riage equal­ity ref­er­en­dum?

I cam­paigned in the same sex mar­riage with the LGBT com­mu­nity in Mullingar and Athlone. My brother is a year mar­ried; he got mar­ried to his (male) part­ner in Spain. I sup­pose that would’ve in­flu­enced my de­ci­sion. I had no prob­lem with it. I be­lieve in equal­ity for all our cit­i­zens. I would’ve been cam­paign­ing many an evening with the lo­cal com­mu­nity at a time when Avril Power was claim­ing she was the only lib­eral voice in Fianna Fáil on the mat­ter! She ig­nored the fact that there were many oth­ers out there do­ing prob­a­bly more than she was.

But the Catholic Church says gay sex is a sin.

Sex isn’t a sin – it’s an ex­pres­sion of a per­son’s love for some­body else. But it’s also a grat­i­fi­ca­tion that peo­ple par­tic­i­pate in – and I’ve no prob­lem with it. Do I agree with ev­ery­thing the Church says? No. But I’m still a mem­ber of the Church. I get com­fort from the Church. I’m com­fort­able with my faith – I don’t have to agree with ev­ery­thing they preach.

How did your very con­ser­va­tive mother feel about your brother com­ing out?

She came to the wed­ding in Spain. She gave him away – she walked him up the aisle. She’s very proud of him. Ev­ery mother loves their chil­dren and they don’t judge – and she hasn’t judged. He lives in Spain. I was home on Sun­day night to visit my par­ents and she was say­ing he’d been on the phone to say he was com­ing home for Christ­mas, and she was so ex­cited about it. I’m sure she’s just as proud of him as she was be­fore he came out.

Did you ever ques­tion your own sex­u­al­ity grow­ing up?

I sup­pose ev­ery­body ques­tions it, don’t they? I’ve al­ways been in a het­ero­sex­ual re­la­tion­ship.

You were never tempted to ex­per­i­ment?

(Laughs) No – not so far any­way!

Who was your teenage crush on?

As a teenager, it would’ve been very erotic to be watch­ing Home and Away and them wear­ing biki­nis!

Was chas­ing women and sex a big part of grow­ing up for you?

I went to an all boys board­ing school. But, yeah, I en­joy chas­ing women. I en­joy sex with women.

One of the Dáil pol corrs was telling me you’ve a rep­u­ta­tion for be­ing a bit of a ladies’ man!

Some­times some­one’s rep­u­ta­tion can su­percede them. Put it this way, if I was with all the women I was al­leged to have been with, I would have had a very ex­cit­ing num­ber of years! I’m in a re­la­tion­ship about two years. For most of my adult life, I’ve been in re­la­tion­ships.

It might be a grim thought, but Ge­orge Hook said he was turned on by wear­ing women’s knick­ers! Is there any­thing that turns you on?

Tak­ing women’s knick­ers off!

How old were you when you lost vir­gin­ity?

About 17, I’d say.

Was it all you hoped it would be?

Far from it. It was a drunken one-night stand.

How old were you be­fore it was in a lov­ing at­mos­phere?

I sup­pose first love was when I was 18/19.

Have you ever been to a strip club?

Yes. As a teenager, I went to a strip club at a friend’s brother’s stag party. What passes as fun and en­ter­tain­ment at 19 cer­tainly wouldn’t pass as fun and en­ter­tain­ment now. Re­cently, I was in Am­s­ter­dam and walked through the red light dis­trict and I found it seedy and un­in­ter­est­ing.

Have you ever been with a hooker?

Par­don! Have I ever been with a hooker? No! I hon­estly be­lieve if peo­ple want sex you shouldn’t need to pay for it. There’s many men and women out there and we’re not too dis­sim­i­lar in terms of sex­ual need and grat­i­fi­ca­tion. Most times, if you go out and so­cialise and meet with peo­ple, you’ll find that sex is read­ily avail­able from a will­ing adult (laughs). And it’s a lit­tle bit more plea­sur­able, I’d imag­ine, than hav­ing to pay for it.

Have you ever watched porn?

Of course I’ve watched porn.

Did you en­joy watch­ing it?

Did I en­joy watch­ing it (laughs)? It’s a while since I watched it. I can’t re­mem­ber. No more than I said about the strip clubs: what you find en­joy­able at 19 is to­tally dif­fer­ent, and your mind­set at 19 to now is worlds apart. Would I have watched a porn movie in the last num­ber of years? Not at all.

It’s much more ac­ces­si­ble these days – at a flick of a but­ton you can switch on porn.

Je­sus! Ja­son, what but­tons are you switch­ing? I’ve fuck­ing none of them on my tele­vi­sion any­way!

I mean on your com­puter.

I’ve an Oireach­tas com­puter, so it would be a to­tal ‘no-no’ to be look­ing at porn on that.

Hy­po­thet­i­cally speak­ing, if you could be­come Taoiseach in the morn­ing on the con­di­tion you’d have to give up sex – would you take the deal?

(Laughs) Who’d be check­ing if I had to give it up or not?

For ar­gu­ment’s sake, God gave you the deal.

I think I’d take the Taoiseach’s job and I’d chance my arm in terms of how I’d fare on the sex front there­after!

What type of mu­sic were you into grow­ing up?

I wasn’t very mu­si­cal at all. I would lis­ten to a va­ri­ety of mu­sic. Last week I was at An­drea Bo­celli, and I like the sound­track to A Star Is Born. Ba­si­cally, what­ever’s in the charts. I’m not set on any one type of mu­sic. I read Hot Press an odd time. Funny, ac­tu­ally, it’s in the hair­dressers that I go to get my hair cut and they al­ways give it to me.

Did you ever smoke mar­i­juana?

No. It’s funny, I never had the urge to do it. Even a cou­ple of weeks

“He was al­ways ar­ro­gant! Shane (Ross) al­ways thought he had the an­swers! He had all the an­swers when he was in op­po­si­tion – he has none of them now.”

ago, I was in a sit­u­a­tion where some­body was smok­ing a joint and asked did I want a drag. I was at a party in Ger­many many years ago and the birth­day cake was a hash cake – and I didn’t have any de­sire to have a slice. Even now, I don’t drink as much as I used to. I would’ve gone out and binged, drank ex­ces­sively and had the fun, and all the rest. But I never had the urge to take a drug of any de­scrip­tion.

What do you think about le­gal­is­ing mar­i­juana?

Look it, there’s merit in it. It would ap­pear that there’s a lot of peo­ple fuck­ing smok­ing it any­way. I don’t know, some­times you might be bet­ter off le­gal­is­ing some­thing and at least get­ting tax off it than not.

How old were you when you first got pissed?

This would be a bone of con­tention in my house, be­cause my mother is a pi­o­neer 50 years and never drank. My fa­ther would be a very mod­er­ate drinker. The first time I got caught be­ing drunk was when we were on a school tour to Italy in the year after my Ju­nior Cert. We got very drunk. Funny enough, the night we were caught was the one night that I wasn’t drunk, but those who were gave the list of ev­ery­one who had drank over the pre­vi­ous cou­ple of nights. So, the school wrote to my par­ents and, need­less to say, that didn’t go down well. At an­other time, I got drunk on a Christ­mas Eve and I went to mid­night mass. Again, I shouldn’t have been drunk be­cause I was un­der­age. My brother had to take me out of mass be­fore it was over, put it that way.

Alan Kelly TD and Min­is­ter Jim Daily both con­fessed in their re­cent

Hot Press In­ter­views to get­ting be­hind the wheel after a few pints. Did you ever do that?

I did. I sup­pose, given my cur­rent port­fo­lio as spokesper­son, I’d be em­bar­rassed to say it now. I would have, as an im­ma­ture per­son, maybe thought it was a kind of a manly thing that I was able to man­age the car, and bring it home after four or five pints. It was stupid and it was im­ma­ture. And now I wouldn’t take a drink at all and drive. It’s just not worth it.

Have you ever been to­tally plas­tered?

I wouldn’t say I was plas­tered, but cer­tainly I drove a car when I shouldn’t go out – when I was in no fit state to drive a car.

Ber­tie Ahern boasted in Hot Press back in 1986 that he’d have no prob­lem hav­ing a ‘fair few’ pints of Bass and driv­ing home.

It was a dif­fer­ent cul­ture, but you don’t have to go back to the ’80s. I mean, if peo­ple are be­ing hon­est, I drank and drove. I knew it was wrong, but I was im­ma­ture and, at the same time, you got away with it. It’s chang­ing. I know oth­ers in their early twen­ties and they would never con­sider drink­ing and driv­ing. Not even a glass of wine. That’s good.

What about Danny Healy-Rae’s idea? A spe­cial driv­ing li­cence for peo­ple in ru­ral ar­eas to be able to drink a cou­ple of pints?

No. The game is over for drink driv­ing.

What marks out of 10 would you give Shane Ross for his time as Trans­port Min­is­ter?

Can we go into the mi­nus? I think he has been a very poor Min­is­ter. He’s done very lit­tle. We have se­ri­ous prob­lems with our pub­lic trans­port. Con­ges­tion is at an all-time high. I don’t think he can point to any ma­jor achieve­ment in the last two years.

So what do you reckon he’s been up to?

I think what he’s do­ing is spend­ing the time tak­ing notes and keep­ing records, and as soon as he’s re­lieved of his du­ties as min­is­ter he’ll start writ­ing a book. And the ti­tle of the book will be De­spite His

Best Ef­fort, The Sys­tem Beat Him – or some­thing like that. I don’t be­lieve he’s been a good Min­is­ter. And for all his pon­tif­i­cat­ing when in op­po­si­tion, he hasn’t fol­lowed through on any­thing. When he was a TD and Se­na­tor, he raged against the NTA as a quango that was there to pro­tect its po­lit­i­cal mas­ters. But have a look at Min­is­ter Ross’s par­lia­men­tary replies on kil­dare­ – 90 per­cent of them will re­fer your query to the NTA. Whether it’s about con­ges­tion in Dublin, whether it’s about ca­pac­ity uses on Dublin Bus, or the DART or the LUAS, or a ring road in Gal­way – he’ll re­spond that this is a mat­ter for the NTA. So, to me, while a pleas­ant man, he has been a bit­ter dis­ap­point­ment.

Some peo­ple ac­cuse him of be­ing ar­ro­gant.

He was al­ways ar­ro­gant! Shane al­ways thought he had the an­swers! He had all the an­swers when he was in op­po­si­tion – he has none of them now. In terms of in­sur­ance, in his own gov­ern­ment’s re­port of Jan­uary 2017, his depart­ment was the lead on seven rec­om­men­da­tions to tackle the high cost of in­sur­ance. None of them have been im­ple­mented.

Do you like him on a per­sonal level?

I used to get on quite well with him, but he now seems to take any crit­i­cism per­son­ally. A cou­ple of times he would say to me, “I didn’t like what you said to­day.” And I said, “Shane, this is about me ad­dress­ing the de­fi­cien­cies within your depart­ment. You’re the per­son with re­spon­si­bil­ity to ad­dress them. And if you’re do­ing some­thing pos­i­tive and good, we’ll sup­port you. And if you’re not, we won’t.” We’ve worked with the gov­ern­ment – but it’s very hard to work with some­one who is not even bring­ing for­ward leg­is­la­tion.

What do you make of Leo Varad­kar?

I find him very stand­off­ish and don’t find him that per­son­able. After Brian Leni­han passed away, Leo made a state­ment in the Dáil. I went up to com­pli­ment him – and he just walked away! I thought it was rude. But he’s strate­gic. Ev­ery­thing he does and says, I think, he does for a rea­son.

Ev­ery­body ap­pears to be dis­miss­ing the idea of go­ing into coali­tion with Sinn Féin.

Our party leader has made our po­si­tion quite clear in re­la­tion to that. The de­ci­sion has been taken and I’m happy to stick by that.

Would you have any ide­o­log­i­cal ob­jec­tion to coali­tion with Sinn Féin?

The de­ci­sion has been taken and I’m stick­ing by the de­ci­sion (laughs).

Could you ever see Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael go­ing into coali­tion?

You can never say never about any­thing.

But yet you say ‘never’ to Sinn Féin!

No, I ac­tu­ally didn’t. If you read be­tween the lines, I said the party has made a de­ci­sion in re­la­tion to Sinn Féin and I’m a front­bench mem­ber of the party and I stick to that de­ci­sion. I’m happy to stick to that de­ci­sion. In re­la­tion to Fine Gael, in terms of the next gen­eral elec­tion, we have made our com­mit­ment that we won’t go into coali­tion with them. We said the same in ad­vance of the last gen­eral elec­tion. We hon­oured that com­mit­ment. Who knows what’s down the road? You can only ad­vo­cate it one elec­tion at a time – and for the next elec­tion we’ve said we won’t col­late with ei­ther Fine Gael or Sinn Féin. We re­mained true to our word that time and we will after the next time. Our aim is to lead an al­ter­na­tive gov­ern­ment. I’ve no doubt, at some stage into the fu­ture, Sinn Féin will be in gov­ern­ment. But, as a party, we’ve taken the de­ci­sion that won’t be

“I wouldn’t say I was plas­tered, but cer­tainly I drove a car when I shouldn’t go out – when I was in no fit state to drive a car.”

after the next gen­eral elec­tion any­how.

Would you con­sider run­ning for Europe?

I cer­tainly wouldn’t rule it out, but my fo­cus and at­ten­tion at the mo­ment is to be re-elected to the Dáil.

I heard you’ve com­pleted a cou­ple of marathons.

Jog­ging is some­thing I find very good for my men­tal health. I’ve done two marathons and I have a goal to com­plete more. If I am suc­cess­ful in my ap­pli­ca­tion to do a num­ber of marathons next year, one of the char­i­ties I will be fundrais­ing for is a lo­cal one called Good 2 Talk. They’re a Mullingar coun­selling ser­vice who pro­vide coun­selling free of charge and only ask for peo­ple to make a do­na­tion. I’ve never used that group my­self, but I do know many peo­ple that it helped in a very mean­ing­ful way – and that’s why I’d like to give some­thing back.

You’ve spo­ken in the past about suf­fer­ing from anx­i­ety and panic at­tacks.

I re­alised it was an is­sue around the time of the last elec­tion. I had been work­ing very hard, long hours, seven days a week. I sup­pose I had anx­i­ety. At times I didn’t want to get up, all of that. I would put it down to, “This is just nerves over the elec­tion”. But the elec­tion came, the elec­tion went, I topped the poll, I got one of the high­est first pref­er­ence votes ever in Long­ford-West­meath – and I just lit­er­ally crashed. I felt, “What is all this for?” And I felt very low. I felt in­ad­e­quate. I felt that I wasn’t fit for pur­pose. I didn’t want to go out, more so than pre­vi­ously. I re­alised all’s not well and I went to see my GP and he made a re­fer­ral to talk some­body, and I did.

Was there any­thing else lead­ing up to this?

I had gone through two break­downs of re­la­tion­ships pre­vi­ously, which I had found hard. And I had spo­ken with a coun­sel­lor at the time. I sup­pose I felt I was work­ing my way through it. And how I worked my way through both break­downs was by work­ing hard. And the whole goal was this Holy Grail of be­ing elected. But when I was elected there was no Holy Grail for me – and I just crashed and burned. I wish I could say I’ve learnt my les­son, but I still tend to put a lot of time and en­ergy into my work, over and above ev­ery­thing else. And that’s some­thing I should prob­a­bly try and stop do­ing. But I’m ad­dicted to my job. My cur­rent part­ner thinks I’m a worka­holic. My mother thinks I work too hard.

Did lone­li­ness play a part?

I think a lot of that came from the fact of re­la­tion­ship break­downs. While an out­go­ing per­son, I wouldn’t have a huge amount of friends. I’ve some very good friends, some close friends, but I don’t make friends eas­ily. Some­times it can be lonely.

Did you ever have any sui­ci­dal thoughts?

I don’t want to get into it that deeply. It would be fair to say that the thought has crossed my mind, but I’ve never taken any ac­tion on it. Per­haps – while I thought of it – deep down I didn’t re­ally want to do it. What I would em­pha­sise is the im­por­tance of reach­ing out and speak­ing. It doesn’t nec­es­sar­ily have to be with a pro­fes­sional but some­one who will lis­ten.

Did you suf­fer from de­pres­sion as well?

Well, anx­i­ety more so than de­pres­sion. My coun­sel­lor would say I was de­pressed at times. And I sup­pose you just try to work to ad­dress that. Thank­fully, I am in a bet­ter place now than I was after the last gen­eral elec­tion, and that comes down to mak­ing a con­certed ef­fort to change. Thank­fully, I’m able to go to a pro­fes­sional and talk. I’m lucky I’m in a po­si­tion to do that. Un­for­tu­nately, there are many peo­ple who aren’t. I sup­pose that is a damn­ing in­dict­ment of this gov­ern­ment.

Did your sis­ter’s death had an ef­fect on your anx­i­ety?

I don’t know. Who knows? They say that I am to­day the sum of my yes­ter­days. With­out ques­tion, ev­ery event that hap­pens in your life helps to shape the per­son you are and the per­son you go on to be­come. As I said, maybe the loss of my sis­ter and my brother helped deepen my faith.

Are you see­ing a ther­a­pist now?

I see a coun­sel­lor pe­ri­od­i­cally, maybe once ev­ery three weeks.

Do you take meds?

No. Thank­fully, never. They had asked me would I con­sider go­ing on med­i­ca­tion, but no, I don’t. The coun­sel­lor would en­cour­age me to talk and would en­cour­age re­duced al­co­hol con­sump­tion and phys­i­cal ex­er­cise. And he en­cour­ages me to al­low for an el­e­ment of down­time – three out of four isn’t bad!

Did you hit the bot­tle too much?

Look it, drink is a de­pres­sant. But I’m for­tu­nate I’m not a heavy drinker. I’m a so­cial drinker. Cer­tainly, your mood would be lower, say, if you were out three nights in a row – even only hav­ing three or four pints, you would feel an aw­ful lot lower than you would if you weren’t. I make a con­scious de­ci­sion ev­ery year for Lent and Novem­ber to give up drink. I like a so­cial drink, but I’m con­scious that fre­quent drink­ing is a de­pres­sant – it’s not good.

When was the last time you cried?

After the last gen­eral elec­tion, I was feel­ing very anx­ious – I would’ve cried a lot at that stage. But thank­fully not re­cently. I’m sure I’ll shed a tear on Satur­day be­cause of my aunt’s fu­neral.

“I went to an all boys board­ing school. But, yeah, I en­joy chas­ing women. I en­joy sex with women.”

Some rothars do have ‘em: ex­er­cise is an im­por­tant part of Troy’s men­tal health regime

On the road again…

Half marathon man

Robert: con­tem­plates sit­ting on the fence

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