First-time TD: Niamh Smyth, Fianna Fáil
The FF TD for Cavan-Monaghan had a very busy year in the Dáil, including having a baby
Niamh Smyth, Fianna Fáil’s spokesperson on arts and heritage: “I feel like I’m on a constant treadmill.” Photograph: Gareth Chaney Collins
“My first election was to the council in 2009, and then in 2014. The general election was my first shot at the Dáil. It has been a long-term goal and it is just fantastic to be there. I think it came as a surprise. I was the underdog in the election. I was asked to run four weeks before polling day.
“I was the very last candidate added among Fianna Fáil candidates. To get elected was a huge bonus and not expected. I often heard the hours were very long and it can be – I suppose people are squeezing a week’s work into three days. It’s [The Dáil] probably a more personable place than I expected it to be. I found that people are very generous with their time, because it is very daunting and overwhelming when you walk through the doors there.
Arts and heritage“My background was being involved in the arts and I was delighted when Micheál [Martin] put me on the front bench as spokesperson on arts and heritage. From having my experience on the county council, I wanted the opportunity to work on issues for people locally.
“I will never forget the day a Government was formed, even though we were on the opposition benches. It was a very momentous occasion, and always will be for me.
“I had a baby during the year, another big surprise. Juliette arrived on November 17th. I suppose that was new for everyone around me. There wouldn’t be too many members expecting a baby, particularly in their first term. You have to bounce back into work as quickly as possible, which I was able to do.
Juggle everything“I have managed to juggle everything fairly well. It’s to get that system in place for yourself, to try and fit everything in and manage your time. I feel like I’m on a constant treadmill.
“You have to ensure you have your feet on the ground in the constituency as well. The year ahead will be about getting embedded so people feel the benefit of having me there, because unless they are feeling the benefit, it doesn’t count for anything.”