8 Questions for Micheál Martin

What are three things you can’t live without?

As opposed to my wife and family. Let me think, fruit. A Munster final in both codes, I have to get an annual fix. And, thirdly, a swim in the sea.

What is your motto/advice that you live by?

To your own self be true.

Why did you become a politician?

It is a long story. I have always had an interest in current affairs and it evolved through that. Then I became very involved in UCC in student politics. And I think Northern Ireland was a catalyst for that interest because at the time I was born and when I was in my teenage years the northern problem was raging... and that sparked huge interest in my generation. And eventually I was asked would I run for local elections ... fundamentally politics is about making a difference to your community.

Ten years from now where will you be?

In Government.

Name four guests for your ideal dinner party?

Brendan Behan. [Sean] Lemass. Churchill. Hillary Clinton. And say Alan Shortt, he can do the entertainment.

What are you currently reading?

The best book I read in a long time was Let the Great World Spin, by Colum McCann. The best novel in a generation, it’s an extraordinary book. The last three years I picked up my reading an awful lot. There was a valley period for a while because you get so involved in politics and that is a danger for politicians. I am reading also The Race of a Lifetime, how Obama won the Whitehouse, and that is a great account of the election campaign.

What keeps you awake at night?

I generally get a good night’s sleep. I park politics and the issues of the day. It would have to be very serious issues, but other than that I tend to get a night’s sleep. The politics or the thought of Morning Ireland the next morning doesn’t put me off.

What is your funniest political memory?

There were some funny moments that weren’t funny at the time. During the Hillsborough (Stormont Assembly negotiations) we had some very funny moments when we were locked up in Hillsborough Castle.

Finding Gordon Brown’s stash of green and black chocolate bars, 70% cocoa, and sneaking a bar from him. He had about six bars there, apparently he is an addict of the stuff and I am too, I love my dark chocolate. At three in the morning ... I said, Jesus, who owns those chocolates.

And during those talks we thought we had a break through at five in the morning and I ended up in a furious row with Gerry Adams — all guns blazing.

Sean Woodward (Northern Irish secretary) witnessed it and said it was the most extraordinary thing ... it just shows if you deprive yourself of sleep there is going to be a blowout at some stage.

It was about three days before the end ... but I just let rip. It was funny looking back because it was people from different republican backgrounds getting hot and heavy. Sean Woodward thought it was very funny coming from the gentile British background he wouldn’t hear this type of language.

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