The politicians' protest: We're not going on a summer holiday
As the Dáil recess approaches, TDs in the age of austerity stress that they are keen to have a clear head rather than a tan at the end of the long breakPOLITICIANS ARE under increasing pressure to reflect their constituents’ restricted financial circumstances by holidaying at home, and the recent redrawing of constituency boundaries has given some TDs an extra incentive to keep up with the staycation trend.
The Independent TD Mattie McGrath has twice been elected in Tipperary South, but this constituency will be united with its northern neighbour, another three-seater, to form a single five-seat constituency at the next general election. Time away from Leinster House will be used to introduce himself to potential voters.
“I’ll visit parts of north Tipperary I’m not familiar with. It’s a big county. I’ll have to get up there for a night to two to see the lie of the land,” McGrath says. He has a busy summer ahead on the home front, with plenty of family events to keep him in Ireland: the first of his five daughters is getting married on August 3rd and one of his three sons is taking part in an all- Ireland soccer tournament in Galway at the end of the month.
In September, however, he hopes to make a return pilgrimage to Medjugorje, where he went last year. “My wife loves it. It’s very peaceful and tranquil. It’s good to get time for reflection and renew energy, and to get a bit of sun and sustenance to face the new term.”
Like McGrath, the Fine Gael TD Peter Mathews will be seeking divine inspiration when he sets off on holiday with his wife and brother. “We’re not doing a long one this year but we are just going to take a few days in a place I haven’t been for 30 years: Lourdes, believe it or not,” Mathews says. “It’s a time for reflection, composure and looking for miracles for the country – and ourselves,” he says.
Minister of State for Tourism Michael Ring, who is going to Co Clare for a short break, says he has not had a day off since last Christmas, but will soon be putting a message on his phone to say he is not available. “But I’ll be back in the office two weeks later,” he says. “Some of my colleagues are going abroad, and that’s fine. That’s their wish and they’re entitled to do that. Staying here is helpful for the Irish economy, and the hot weather is not for me.”