THE opening day of the 31st Dail was a milestone for the Laois/Offaly constituency with two new Offaly TD’s taking their seats for the first time.
Deputy Barry Cowen took his brother Brian’s seat while Deputy Marcella Corcoran Kennedy flew the flag for female representation in the county, carrying on from Deputy Olwyn Enright.
Deputy Cowen said the day was ‘bittersweet’ as although it marked the start of his career in national politics, it also marked the end of Brian’s.
“On a very personal basis you are proud and excited,” he said, but at the same time he was starting where someone else “hadn’t reached the pinnacle of his career,” which he described as having been “cut short prematurely.”
He said the day was very exciting with 76 new TD’s in total, each bringing with them their family and friends.
He also commented on the “Mayo contingent” for the Taoiseach Enda Kenny, which were “no different than we were a few years ago.”
Deputy Cowen said an interesting aspect of the day was the fact that because of the number of independents, so many of them were permitted speaking time. “It was interesting to say the least,” said Deputy Cowen.
For the other new deputy in the constituency, Marcella Corcoran-Kennedy, the day was “wonderful” as well as “humbling”.
“The first day was very busy. I began with a radio interview with Ian Dempsey at 8.10am and then I went to an interdenominational service at St Anne’s on Dawson Street. The President, Taoiseach and new TD’s were all there, it was a lovely audience,” she said. Then it was on to Leinster House for the first official sitting of the Dail at 12pm.
“There was a very great sense of privilege to be there. Sitting in the chamber was very humbling, being in the heart of our democracy,” said Deputy Corcoran-Kennedy.
She said the fact that the people of Laois/Offaly have given her the mandate to represent them which was both “wonderful and humbling.”