A NUMBER of first time Cork TDs took their seats in Leinster House for the first time on Thursday.
Among the newly elected representatives from across the county were Social Democrats’ Holly Cairns, Fianna Fáil’s Christopher O’Sullivan, Fine Gael’s Colm Burke, and Sinn Féin’s Thomas Gould.
Deputy Gould’s wife Michelle, daughters Aoife and Orlaith, and his extended family including his father Tony travelled to Dublin to support him on his first day. His mother, however, passed away a number of years ago. “She would have loved this,” he said.
“For me to be the first person from Knocknaheeny to be elected to the Dáil is fantastic,” he said.
“It feels a bit surreal, but I wasn’t a bit nervous. I was looking forward to it,” he added.
One of the items on the agenda for the first meeting of the 33rd Dáil was the election of a Taoiseach. While a vote did take place, no one was elected to the position.
However, asked about the feeling within Sinn Féin, Deputy Gould said: “There’s a real positive vibe about us on the back of the election. It’s after giving us great energy. People gave us the opportunity and they voted for change.” He said that party leader Mary Lou McDonald is “really enthused” with the mandate the party has been given, and “she feels an expectation on her as Sinn Féin leader to deliver.” On the issue of moving forward Deputy Gould said that the people had voted for change and that Mary Lou McDonald was now “looking for common sense to prevail.” Meanwhile, Fine Gael’s Colm Burke took his seat in the Dáil for the first time today, however he is well used to Leinster House having served as a Senator from 2011 until this year.
For him, today is simply getting “back to work, and getting on with looking after Cork North Central.” He said that Thursday’s business was quite drawn out with the election of the Ceann Comhairle and the attempt to elect a Taoiseach.
As no one was elected to the position, Deputy Burke said “it’s going to be a case of sitting down and seeing how a new Government can be formed.
“We’ll still get on with our work,” he said but cautioned that it could be “well into June” before committees such as the Public Accounts Committee and the Health Committee meet.
“Until then we will get on and deal with work in our constituencies,” he said.
Fianna Fáil’s Christopher O’Sullivan said that his first day as a TD was “a proud moment for me, my family, and my supporters” a busload of whom travelled to Leinster House from West Cork for the occasion.
“I must say it was a bit daunting but we had an induction (on Wednesday) where we got a tour of the Dáil chamber which definitely helped because I’d never been there before,” he said.
“It’s special. I feel privileged that the people of West Cork have given me this responsibility.”