Business Personal Finance

Monday 16 September 2019

'It is so much easier for the rich to get elected'

My money

Saoirse McHugh
Saoirse McHugh

Saoirse McHugh was the Green Party candidate for the Midlands-Northwest region in the European elections earlier this summer.

McHugh, who is from Achill Island in Co Mayo, secured more than 51,000 first-preference votes in the elections. Although she failed to secure a seat, McHugh is now regarded as a rising star in the Green Party.

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What's the most important lesson about money which your career has taught you?

My foray into politics has taught me that although we have a democracy, it is so much easier for the rich to get elected - as the exposure you can buy [with money] is massive. As an environmentalist, I've learned that money is often the problem, as profit is sought everywhere - such as in forests, agriculture, mining and fishing.

What's the best advice you ever got about money?

My aunt Anne always tells me to spend money, as I could be dead tomorrow! I don't know if it's the best advice about money - but it's the most I've taken.

What's the biggest financial challenge of living on an island?

Trying to find a house to rent in a holiday home market was really hard.

What's the most expensive country you ever visited?

The Alaskan bush. Out there, I bought four apples, a sweet potato and the tiniest bag of pine nuts, and it came to $46 (€41).

What environmentally-friendly change would you cite as a good financial move for people?

The biggest saving would probably be retrofitting your home. Unfortunately, this is way beyond the means of most people (and not doable for renters), so I believe it will need to be State-led.

What's your favourite coin?

I have a US cent that is squashed and which has the galaxy printed on to it. I got it at some museum when I was younger. I thought it was the coolest thing ever and it's still floating around almost 20 years later.

The most expensive thing you have ever bought?

Probably my masters degree but, accumulatively, I'd say car insurance for the past decade.

What was your worst job?

I worked in the stables of an animal rescue centre in Houston in the US. Although it was a really rewarding job, we had lots of horses come in - which we had to euthanise. Euthanising a horse is a very hands-on experience and I never got used to it. I would cry all evening at how badly some of the horses had been treated and how unfair it was.

If you won the Lottery, what would you do with the money?

I'd buy as much land as possible and begin a rewilding project.

Have you ever made an insurance claim?

No, although the ever-increasing price of car insurance makes it feel like I have.

iTunes or Spotify?

I end up on YouTube if I want to listen to music. Either that or I frantically search the radio stations to find one where people aren't talking.

What was the last thing you bought online?

Weightlifting wrist wraps.

Would you buy Irish property now?

No, I've no money to do that and so I haven't done proper research. Though it looks like there's a recession coming in the next year - so I would wait to see what the property market did then.

Do you ever haggle?

In countries I've been where haggling is commonplace, I am too aware of the income disparity between there and Ireland - and so I have never been able to find the heart to haggle.

What three things would you not be able to do without if you were tightening your belt?

The gym, coffee in the mornings (especially in winter), and the car, I suppose, as I wouldn't get anywhere without it.

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