New TD ‘over the moon’ on ‘my first day in big school’

Ivana Bacik congratulated by rivals on election as she becomes 37th female TD in Dáil

Screengrab taken from Oireachtas TV of newly elected Dublin Bay South TD Ivana Bacik taking her seat in the Dáil on Tuesday. Photograph: PA

Screengrab taken from Oireachtas TV of newly elected Dublin Bay South TD Ivana Bacik taking her seat in the Dáil on Tuesday. Photograph: PA

 

New Labour TD Ivana Bacik she was “over the moon” to be in the Dáil and she felt it was “my first day in big school”.

She said she was “really grateful and honoured” to be elected in her home constituency of Dublin Bay South.

The 37th female member of the Dáil, she took her seat in the Convention Centre for the first time after winning the Dublin Bay South byelection on Thursday.

Labour leader Alan Kelly said he was “immensely proud” of her as with a smile he warned Taoiseach Micheál Martin that she will “hold you and your Government to account” and “you’ll find that out pretty quickly”.

At the start of the day’s proceedings Clerk of the Dáil Peter Finnegan announced in Irish and English that Ms Bacik had been elected for the constituency in the byelection following the resignation of former Fine Gael TD Eoghan Murphy.

Ms Bacik was applauded as she walked through the Convention Centre, vast and empty in comparison to the Leinster House chamber where all previous ceremonies for new TDs would have taken place.

Bumped elbows

She walked up to the platform where Ceann Comhairle Sean Ó Fearghaíl was seated and with whom she bumped elbows, following the social distancing public health guidelines.

The seventh Labour TD and the party’s only woman deputy then walked back to her seat bumping elbows with a number of colleagues including her director of elections, Fingal TD Duncan Smith.

Ms Bacik put her hand on her heart as a form of acknowledgement to a number of other TDs as the traditional shaking of hands and hugs was out of the question.

The Ceann Comhairle formally welcomed “our new member. No doubt she will make a significant contribution to this Lower House as she did for many years in the Upper House.”

Sinn Féin leader Mary Lou McDonald said it was a “very convincing win” as she congratulated Ms Bacik on her victory. “You are now the 37th woman in the House,” she added. The Dáil has 160 TDs.

Taoiseach Micheál Martin also paid tribute and said he wanted to welcome her warmly.

Mr Martin said “you have been a long-standing activist on public and social issues and I think the people of Dublin Bay South recognised that and reflected that in their affirmation of your role”.

He had no doubt from her previous legislative experience in the Seanad she would “add value” to the Dáil and its operations.

The Taoiseach also congratulated the party on its success and “we’ll have the occasional debate pertaining to society and the future of our country”.

Labour leader Alan Kelly said he was “immensely proud” of his party colleague who was an “incredible legislator”.

He told the Taoiseach that “Ivana is certainly someone who will hold you to account in coming days, weeks and years ahead, and you’ll find that out pretty quickly”.

Four issues

When she got to speak later on the Order of Business, Ms Bacik said she campaigned on four issues in the campaign “on housing, childcare and eldercare, community facilities and climate justice”.

She said she promised people who were renting the first issue she would raise would be protection for renters and she called on the Taoiseach to support her party’s Bill to provide protection to renters against rent hikes and evictions.

Mr Martin told her the Government is very clearly focussed on housing and the Minister for Housing had brought in strong provisions for renters including measures restricting rent increases to the rate of inflation.