Is being a TD a 'powerless and thankless role'? Some deputies think so

Is being a TD a 'powerless and thankless role'? Some deputies think so

TDs elected for the first time in 2011 have spoken out about their frustration at the job.

A survey of the record 76 TDs elected for the first time five years ago has shown that many thought they would have more power to make changes.

One Fine Gael TD who took part in the Newstalk survey said being in the Dáil was "a powerless and thankless role".

Another told Newstalk: "I had assumed that it would be more hands on. In reality, decisions are made at the top and only minor alterations can be made from within a Government Party, unless you are in cabinet."

Some found the time away from their families tough, while others, such as Independent John Halligan, just had trouble finding their office.

"It took me an hour to find it," he said. "The geographical spread of the Dáil - you can quite easily get lost, which I did."

49% of those surveyed said they didn't feel they had enough speaking time in the Dáil, and many stated their frustration at not being able to make the changes they thought they would.

Fine Gael TD Eoghan Murphy said he was unaware of the amount of abuse he would get as a TD.

"We all get it. I don’t think we realise how much of that we carry with us without even realising it," he said.

"You'll see a negative comment of Facebook and you'll dismiss it - but it's grinding away at the back of your head."

Social Democrat TD Stephen Donnelly said there was a lot of frustration among Independents and members of larger parties.

He said one member of one of the Dáil's political parties, who he described as "a very good guy with a lot to add", said he had challenged something being said by the party leadership at a parliamentary party meeting.

"He said there was this pregnant pause in the room and then someone from the top said: 'You don’t seem to understand how this works.Your job is not to challenge us. This is an information session. We're here to tell you what to do (and) what to say'."

Despite the frustrations, 95% of TDs elected for the first time in 2011 said they enjoyed their first term. A large majority of them - 78% - were also confident of being re-elected.


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