Róisín Meets: Bríd Smith ‘underwhelmed’ by Dáil

On this week’s podcast Dublin South-Central TD talks about fruit picking, parents and politics

Dubiln South-Central TD Bríd Smith tells Róisín Ingle her childhood home became a refuge for people affected by the Troubles.

Dubiln South-Central TD Bríd Smith tells Róisín Ingle her childhood home became a refuge for people affected by the Troubles.

 

In the latest episode of the Róisín Meets podcast, Anti-Austerity Alliance-People Before Profit TD Bríd Smith talks to Róisín Ingle about how she’s finding the Dáil seven weeks after being elected.

“I’m underwhelmed by it. Even the size of it, when you sit in it, when you look at it on Oireachtas Report, it looks enormous. But it actually feels quite small when you’re in there,” she says.

Her fellow TDs have also failed to leave her starstruck.

“Everybody you meet, you know all the big personalities like Gearóid Adams, you know Mícheál Martin and all the rest of it, Enda Kenny. There they are. So what?”

Smith was one of the last TDs elected to the 32nd Dáil, following several days and nights of recounts and Fianna Fáil barristers examining every ballot in Dublin South-Central.

If Smith is hard to impress it may be down to her working-class upbringing. One of seven children, she grew up in Rathfarnham with republican parents. As a result, her childhood home was a refuge for people affected by the Troubles, she says.

“They weren’t necessarily IRA people, some of them were families who had been burned out or harassed out and had nowhere else to go . . . we’d be all pushed into bunkbeds to make room.”

Her father, a committed trade unionist, was a big influence on her own activism, which first emerged when as a 21-year-old librarian she was sacked for refusing to pass a picket.

“I couldn’t believe the union was asking me to pass a picket. I think that instinctively came from my background. You just don’t pass pickets and certainly not of your co-workers.”

Smith says the anti-apartheid movement in Dublin, Britain’s Thatcher-era miner’s strike and Bobby Sands’s hunger strike all inspired her politics. However, she says that it was the movement around the X case here that confirmed her in her political outlook.

The Dublin South-Central TD also recalled her youth picking fruit in fields where the Nutgrove Shopping Centre now stands.

“There was an auld lad who used to crack the whip and he was the worst of them, ‘Gerrup the yard’ he’d be shouting at you and, ‘young one, check your bush,’ that was the other one. It sounds quite rude now but that’s what they’d be shouting at you.”

To listen to the conversation or other episodes of the podcast, go to Soundcloud, iTunes, Stitcher or irishtimes.com.

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