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A Day in the Life: Darragh Gallagher

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The Dáil sits Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday and they are my longest days, they start at  8am and could go on until 10pm.
I try to take public transport as much as I can. I live in Rathfarnham and I have a parking space in Dundrum, so I park there and get the Luas in, which brings me to Stephen’s Green.
All going well, I can get to work from my house in 30 minutes. The Luas is brilliant but the only thing about it is that it is so popular, it can be so busy at peak times. Another one of my boss’s bugbears!
I listen to podcasts as much as I can. Very boring and politically based, like A Week in Politics, and The Floating Voter and things like that - but I’d also listen to Off the Ball and The Mayo News podcast as well, anything to keep the boredom off the commute.
Being a parliamentary assistant is a varied role, there are no two days the same. I provide an advisory role to John Lahart who is the Fianna Fáil TD to Dublin South West. He is also the front bench spokesperson on Dublin itself. My main role is to help him in the formation of policy surrounding topics in Dublin.
At the moment we are working on policies around transport and improving transport. The bus connect is a big thing at the moment in Dublin surrounding the redesign of the bus network. It is a hot topic so we will be holding meetings with Dublin Bus and various stakeholders on that. We are also looking at forming policy on improving housing, tourism, justice, policing and all the main issues that are big in Dublin. My main role is to help him with issues like that and research topics, arrange meetings and dealing with relevant departments. I would be in contact with private secretaries of the ministers’ offices, submitting parliamentary questions and if he is making a contribution in the Dáil on a topic, I would research that topic and maybe help prepare a speech. That is the nuts and bolts of the work in Leinster House.
Leinster House is a really great place to work and obviously if you have an interest in politics, like I always had, it is the Mecca. It is a thrill to work there and I’m sure not everyone will appreciate that. Even people who are not interested in politics are always intrigued by Leinster House and I’ve yet to see any of my ‘non-believer’ friends who are not interested in politics turn down an opportunity to visit Leinster House and see how it works. Some of them in particular are interested in seeing the Dáil bar!
The work is really interesting but in Leinster House, from a political sense, we are in a bubble. We think everyone outside the gates think the same as us. When is the next election? How are Fianna Fáil doing in the polls? But the reality is much different and people don’t really care as much as we do. You have to remind yourself that you are in a bubble and this is not how the public are thinking.
At the moment there is a bit of a lull following the European and local elections and the summer recess is only a few weeks ago. But when we come back, the energy will start building as we prepare for the the most exciting time of the year, Budget Day. As mad as it sounds, it is like All-Ireland final day, there is real excitement about it. A lot of the TDs bring guests and there is a celebrity element, you might see the odd Dublin footballer or inter-county footballer or some TV presenter!
There are also times there can be an air of anticipation about the place. During the week or ten days before France Fitzgerald resigned, there was a real sense of ‘knife-edge’ about Leinster House. There were a lot of TDs and journalists talking in corridors and corners and a lot of huddles going on. Would it collapse the Government or not? You can really sense the unease at them times.
There are journalists always hanging about and they will never turn down the opportunity to go for a cup of coffee. I have got to know a few of them quite well and they all have a job to do and get a story. We have interns coming in all the time and we always give advice to be careful when journalists are about, and not to speak out of turn or say anything that will get printed in the paper, because it has happened.
I wasn’t involved but there was an occasion when there was a discussion in the Dáil bar between staff members, who must have been speaking too loudly about internal matters, and sure enough it was in the Sunday Independent a week later. There was a big inquiry about what was said and who said what and it was a lesson to everyone to be a bit mindful when speaking when journalists are about.
There is a gym on site which has been in the headlines recently but in fairness it is very popular with the staff and I use it a lot. I am involved with Achill GAA and the lads in Dublin meet up twice a week and train in the Phoenix Park and have a kick about and the craic really. I am down in Achill most weekends for football training and it’s a well worn path - but I enjoy it!
We have been waiting for an election since 2016 and the place is full of gossip but it has to be taken with a pinch of salt. You can choose to believe in it and get caught up in it but like all gossip it is very much taken with a pinch of salt. There is a feeling among some people to get the election out of the way but that’s not for me to say. I’m just happy to get on with my job, I don’t care when the election is.

In conversation with Anton McNulty

Factfile
Name Darragh Gallagher
Age: 34
From: Achill
Occupation: Parliamentary Assistant

Quickfire questions

If money was not an issue, what you do everyday?
I have done a lot of travelling but there is still more to be done. That and golf, I’m not a very good golfer but I really like golf and I intend to get better at it.

Who was your first hero?
We are big into football in our house and Man Utd would have been a big influence and I always thought Alex Ferguson was a bit of a legend.

What is the most unusual thing you have eaten?
Either scorpion or cockroach in Thailand.

What is your favourite place in the world?
Achill

What three things are always in your fridge?
Sparkling water, some type of cheese and milk

Best holiday?
I had a really good holiday last year with some of the lads in Las Vegas, San Francisco and Mexico

What do you miss about being a kid?
No bills

Most prized possession?
Scanlon Cup medal … I do have it in theory but I’m not sure what year it was ... maybe the last year it was played!

Describe yourself in three words?
Motivated, loyal, determined.

Best advice you ever got?
Don’t go shopping while hungry

Favourite TV show?
Line of Duty