Focus very much on family during first day in the Dail

The Murphy family at Leinster House. From left: Nadine Murphy, Eugene Murphy TD, Linda Murphy, Rian Muphy and Eugene's mother Margaret (80). Photos: Gerry Stronge.
The Murphy family at Leinster House. From left: Nadine Murphy, Eugene Murphy TD, Linda Murphy, Rian Muphy and Eugene's mother Margaret (80). Photos: Gerry Stronge.

Five years ago a North Galway woman made national headlines when she drove across the concrete plinth in front of Leinster House on her first day as a TD.

Mary Mitchell O’Connor – originally from Milltown but representing the Dun Laoghaire constituency – found herself in the spotlight for all the wrong reasons; this time, no such embarrassment awaited the five newcomers selected by the electorate of Galway’s three constituencies.

Instead they were relishing the attention of being ‘newbies’ in the 32nd Dail as they were showered by the media as well as being congratulated by some of the seasoned elected members.

It was like their first day at school as they were accompanied by family members who delivered them to the gates of Leinster House in time for class.

And they all dressed well for the occasion with Fine Gael’s Hildegarde Naughton attired in a striking and appropriate blue outfit while independent TD Catherine Connolly donned a suit for her first day in the Dail chamber.

Earlier in the morning we spotted Fianna Fail’s Anne Rabbitte in a tracksuit bottom outside the hotel she was staying along with her three children and supporters but that was soon discarded as she wore a dress that was very suitable for the occasion.

Independent Sean Canney looked dapper as usual but his wife Geraldine stole some of his limelight as she was ‘pretty in pink’ while Eugene Murphy of Fianna Fail, representing the Roscommon-Galway constituency, looked slightly in awe of his new surroundings as he was accompanied by his wife on the occasion.

They must have felt slightly unnerved that their first day in the new Dail was marked by a rather vocal anti-water protest group who were surrounded by a couple of dozen Gardaí.

They heckled politicians as they made their entrance and, when there were no politicians around, they were entertained by a lone piper.

When all the photographs and handshakes on the plinth were completed, something of an eerie silence descended outside Leinster House as the Dail finally convened around mid-morning to elect a Ceann Comhairle.

The public gallery was mainly occupied by family members and supporters of the newly elected TDs who viewed with interest what was going on underneath them – even if there was not a lot going on before their eyes.