My summer working in Maureen O’Sullivans office
Upon entering Dáil Éireann for the first time in early June, surrounded by stunning 18th century architecture, beautiful portraits, and sculptures, there was an unmistakable feeling of being in a place of great power. You sense the importance of all that is going on around you and how it has the potential to be intimidating should you let it.
As the summer went on and each day brought more calls to the office from families struggling to keep their home or a single mother raising her children in a hotel room, you can’t help but get the feeling that Dáil Éireann is a place where our leaders have succeeded in walling themselves in from the real issues facing the ordinary people of Dublin.
Witnessing this first hand has made me more appreciative than ever of those few TD’s like Maureen O’Sullivan who retain their integrity after the count centre has closed and the die is cast. Maureen’s tireless (and thankless) work for all those she represents, but most of all the working class and marginalised was awe inspiring. Even more so as I began to understand the frustrations involved with being in opposition, so close to power and yet so far away.
I know that working for Maureen was not a typical experience of working in a TD’s office as Maureen is not a typical TD. Because there was not one call that came to our office that Maureen didn’t have time for, be they a pensioner or a student, Irish born or of new communities, committed supporters or people who have never voted in their life. Maureen’s belief in the dignity of all people and her concern for others trumped any political agenda.
I understand the rarity of finding a workplace which is so stimulating and inspiring and I feel extremely privileged to have had that pleasure in Maureen’s office this summer. I am leaving to pursue my masters but I feel in the short time I was here that I made a difference and, as tough as it was, I will miss it.