By Jack Milne-Dowd – Transition year Correspondent
Fianna Fáil leader and local TD Micheál Martin paid a visit to Douglas Community School on January 11th.
The purpose of this visit was to speak to a third year CSPE class about his life as a politician and various other pieces of information related to law and the work of government.
He began his speech as Gaeilge, and expressed that he was glad to have received such a warm welcome to the school. He continued by telling the students how he grew up in O’Connell’s Avenue near Turner’s Cross. Although his family weren’t directly involved in politics, his father was close friends with former Taoiseach Jack Lynch. Mr. Martin’s interest in politics began when one of his teachers encouraged him, and other students, to watch current affairs and to debate particular topics.
Mr. Martin also reflected on his political career in Cork City; for example his time as Lord Mayor and how he has been involved in government since 1989; acting as minister for many departments, including; education health and foreign affairs.
He explained what the Irish Government does, at home and abroad, using examples such as introducing the smoking ban in 2004 (which he rates as his greatest achievement), and helping to ban cluster bombs in war-stricken African countries. He went on to tell the students about his everyday life, people who have queries about anything within the community and how he deals with them. After that, he explained how laws get put into practice, how they pass through the Dáil, then onto the Seanad, and to the President to make the final decision whether or not to bring it into law. This was followed by a summary of proportional representation, and a comparison of this system and the British equivalent: “first past the post”.
Once he had finished explaining this, he answered questions from the students about his childhood, his daily schedule, and his opinion on certain aspects of the economy. In all of these areas, he was happy to share a great deal of info with the students.
Towards the end of the talk, Mr Long thanked the local TD for visiting us and explained how supportive of our school he has been over the years, even standing on the DCS board of management on numerous occasions. Overall it was a very informative and interesting occasion.