Taking a wrong turn: new Fine Gael deputy begins career with a bump

 

NEWLY ELECTED TD Mary Mitchell O’Connor wondered what all of the photographers were looking at as she drove out of Leinster House yesterday afternoon – “then bang, bang, bang, I went down the steps”.

The Fine Gael deputy for Dún Laoghaire had mistakenly driven on to the plinth at the front of Leinster House and then drove down the steps towards the exit gate.

Unfortunately for her, photographers and cameramen captured her mistake as they gathered at the gates waiting for Fine Gael and Labour negotiators.

“It was a simple mistake. I did not see the steps,” she said.

The plinth used to have steps at both ends but has been made wheelchair accessible in recent years with a ramp replacing the steps on the side nearest the building.

There was no hiding her identity as Ms Mitchell O’Connor’s car was still in campaign livery, a smiling picture of her and the Fine Gael logo proudly displayed.

“I was so excited to be in Dáil Éireann; it was my first day of induction,” she said after the incident.

She said she had expected that most of the problems on her first day would come from trying to negotiate her away around the labyrinthine Leinster House, rather than the car park.

Ms Mitchell O’Connor was not injured in the incident “but my pride is hurt”, she said.

Luckily her red Hyundai coupe was not damaged in the accident. “It is an old car, but fair play to it, I was able to drive it home,” she said.

She said she had not had an accident in 30 years of driving and hoped yesterday’s incident would be her last.

She also vowed to take the bus to work from her home in Cabinteely until she gets used to the geography of the Leinster House car park.

The new deputy was inundated with phone calls yesterday and felt “silly” after the incident.

“I am sorry and I apologise,” she said.

But in a Dáil where scores of new faces are vying to get attention, perhaps the infamy is not so bad. “I’ve certainly made the headlines on my first day,” she said.