Sunday, January 31, 2010

 

An Electrifying Meeting in Slane

Another busy week in Leinster House. I had a range of speeches to give and meetings to attend. I spoke about the new Dog Establishments Bill – it seeks to regulate puppy farms, and I also gave a speech on the aid relief effort in Haiti. We also had a Foreign Affairs Committee meeting on Haiti, which I contributed to, as well as a meeting with our Ambassador to Tanzania, Her Excellency Anne Barrington.

I asked the Ambassador a few questions about issues such as corruption, tourism development and the treatment of Albinos in Tanzania. There’s an old superstition there that the bones of albinos are good for the health. In recent years scores of Albinos have been murdered and cut up. Our Ambassador confirmed that she has raised the matter with parliamentarians in Tanzania, who are frustrated and angry that the practice continues. They vow to put an end to it.

On Wednesday I had the honour of hosting a group of second year students from Greenhills school in Drogheda. There were almost 30 girls in all, including the teachers. Father Iggy also attended. The girls were great fun and asked lots of questions about the workings of the house. One girl was particularly “exercised” about the state-subsidised gym that politicians and staff could use. She wanted to know if I used it. I explained to her that the gym was mostly used by staff, since most politicians had their own private gyms at home. (I quickly pointed out that I was joking on this point!).

One question that came up several times was whether there would be jobs for them when they leave school in a few years. I told them that my view was that we are coming out of recession and that by the time they leave school things should be a lot better.

It was great to entertain the girls, and once again you could see at first hand the intensity of the classroom experience. People probably don’t realise how intense and demanding a teacher’s career can be.

My assistant in Leinster House also helped to show the class around. For whatever reason he became the subject of some attention from the group. He was so exhausted and traumatised at the end of it that I had to send him home early, just in time to hear the request played for him on Spin FM from the girls.

On Saturday I attended a meeting in Slane in relation to the proposed route of the bypass. I was there to listen to the views of the 100 or so people who attended. Whilst one speech was being delivered I leant back and my hand touched a fence. Unfortunately for me it was electrified. I received a large jolt, and the sound caused everything to stop and stare. Luckily for me the shock passed quickly, and if anything I felt rather better after it!

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