Senator to swap lives with single mother

A politician plans to swap lives with a single mother, trading seven days in the Seanad for a week in her shoes.

Labour Senator John Gilroy, from Glanmire, Cork, has agreed to trade places with Tramore-based Andrea Galgey.

A Spark (Single Parents Acting for the Rights of our Kids) campaigner, Ms Galgey juggles a part-time job and a college course alongside raising her three boys.

She issued the challenge to TDs on the Labour Party’s Facebook page and says it “snowballed” from there.

“The idea came from a discussion with the campaign group, we thought wouldn’t it be interesting if a politician spent a week in our shoes?” she said.

The idea garnered little interest until Sen Gilroy asked if a senator would be “any good?”

Ms Galgey reckons he is in for a tough time.

“I get up at 7am, get the kids ready for school, make lunches, make sure they have everything for activities and plan for what’s happening after school, as some days I am at work. In the evening, I cook dinner, help with homework then it’s activities and bedtime for them. Then I sit down and do my voluntary work on the computer. There is no time for me. I get tired, it’s hard. But you have to do these things for your kids’ future. If I don’t do it who’s going to do it for me?”

Gilroy, a former psychiatric nurse, lives with his wife and two children in Glanmire.

“He is in for a very harsh landing. He may work long hours but he has back-up at home to facilitate that, whereas I have to do everything myself,” said Ms Galgey.

The financial divide between a senator’s salary and the purse strings of a working mum should drive the message home, she said.

“Even though I’m working part time I’m finding it really hard. But obviously the senators and TDs are not feeling the pinch, so I’d love to see him survive that.”

On the flip side, depending on the freedom Ms Galgey is afforded if the experiment goes ahead, it could give valuable insight into everyday lives of politicians in the Senate.

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