The man many have tipped as Taoiseach Micheál Martin's successor as leader of Fianna Fáil is in a candid and optimistic mood. Jim O'Callaghan fully supports the easing of restrictions in the coming days after six weeks of oppressive lockdown.
"People need a bit of relief," explains the Fianna Fáil TD, affectionately known as 'Big Jim' to his friends and colleagues in Dáil Éireann and the Four Courts.
"It's going to be a different Christmas. But the most important thing is that we put in place a plan for the New Year when we're going to roll out the new vaccine. I'm pleased to see the Government have a team in place. I want to see more from that team. I want to see as much of that team in the New Year as I've seen of Nphet this year."
Micheál Martin will stand down as Taoiseach in December 2022, handing over the reins to Fine Gael as part of the rotating government Coalition plans. Would O'Callaghan like to eventually take over as Fianna Fáil leader?
"Yes," he replies, before explaining that it's not as straightforward as that. "I'm obviously not going to say I'm not interested in the leadership. But it would be an honour for any member of the parliamentary party to lead Fianna Fáil." Of one thing he is sure - Fianna Fáil should be prepared to consider going into government with any of the other political parties after the next election, including Sinn Féin.
"My own view is whether I'm leader of Fianna Fáil in the future or not, my own view is that the next election, Fianna Fáil should contest it, without ruling in or out any of the other parties in advance."
While he says he has "serious issues" with Sinn Féin, he expects they could well form part of the next government.
"Any party that is elected to Dáil Éireann and that has a significant number of TDs, in my view, at some stage in the future, they will be in government. That applies to the Social Democrats as much as it applies to Sinn Féin. So yes, I do see that situation in the future."
The practising barrister has watched with interest the unfolding controversy surrounding the sole recommendation of Séamus Woulfe to the Supreme Court by Justice Minister Helen McEntee. Immediate reform is now needed to the process of making judicial appointees to Cabinet, he says.
"I listened very carefully to what Helen McEntee had to say. The process she outlined for nominating judges isn't an appropriate process for a Coalition Government.
"I think it's a process that isn't fair to Helen McEntee, it's a process that isn't fair to people who apply for judicial posts. And it's a process that just needs to be changed.
"Because you can't have a situation within the three-party Coalition, that one minister, a Minister for Justice, decides exclusively amongst herself, or based on what somebody might say to her in an informal conversation, who should be nominated.
"We need a mechanism in Government whereby all the parties are involved in making decisions such as this, so that there's collective Cabinet responsibility for it. I introduced legislation back in 2016 in respect to judicial appointments; it would have dealt with a lot of the issues that have arisen here. But we need to expedite the reform of the appointments process in Ireland."
While it is solely Fine Gael caught up in the latest Government debacle, O'Callaghan points out that Fianna Fáil has had its "own issues", in particular with "Dara [Calleary] and Barry [Cowen]", who were both forced to resign as minister for agriculture earlier this year.
But the Dublin Bay South TD is firm in his disagreement with recent comments made by Fianna Fáil senator Timmy Dooley, who said that some "fraught relationships" have been exposed within the party that will never be rebuilt.
"I don't think there's fraught relationships," he responds.
"I'm sure in every workplace there's bound to be relationships where some people get on very well and others may have fraught relationships. My own assessment of the Fianna Fáil parliamentary party is that it is a hard-working and convivial group of people who work well together."
What is a worry for the potential future party leader though is the latest opinion poll, which has seen support for Fianna Fáil plummet to just 11pc.
"Yes, that is of concern to me. That's a concern to everyone. I'm sure it's a concern to the Taoiseach and to Cabinet ministers. But the belief is that if we perform well in Government, we will get some of the pro-Government support.
"I think when you look at what we've done with getting kids back to schools, in terms of what we did with the Budget, and now what we're doing and reopening up the country to a certain extent, I think we will gain the political benefits of that."
If there was anything O'Callaghan could change about Fianna Fáil, it would be how it views itself, and its obsession with its political opponents.
"I would like the party to have more self-belief. I would like the party to recognise the significant role it can play in Irish society. I would like the party to stop talking about other parties. I would like us to recognise that the reason Ireland is a very successful post-colonial independent country is to a large extent because of policies implemented by Fianna Fáil governments in the 20th century."
While O'Callaghan is a well-known TD, does he believe his sister, RTÉ broadcaster Miriam O'Callaghan, has her own presidential ambitions?
"I have four sisters. All of them are well able to speak out for themselves," he responds with a smile.
"They don't need their little brother speaking out for them."
Speaking of RTÉ and investigations into potential breaches of Covid-19 regulations at the State broadcaster during an event attended by his sister, O'Callaghan believes that it was a minor breach and the matter should now be put to bed.
"I think people wanted to recognise and acknowledge the departure of a woman who worked there for very many years. She was presented with a bunch of flowers. People had their photograph taken with her. It was a minor and momentary breach of the social distancing guidelines - which maybe we're breaching right now. But I think we need to keep it in perspective," he says.
Meanwhile the RTÉ controversy is the subject of a Garda investigation.
"One of the downsides of the pandemic and our response to it is that some elements of our society have become very judgmental and very censorious. And maybe journalists, to a certain extent, have become too judgemental.
"But I just think we need to be very careful we don't start condemning other people for not adhering to the best practice all the time. I don't think Eileen Dunne had to say to me and the rest of the country that she let us down. She didn't let me down."
The State plans to vaccinate more than one million of the country's most vulnerable against Covid-19 in the coming months, with hopes that the first of those could receive the jab as early as next month.