Wednesday 13 November 2019

Political secrets of success from homegrown inspirations

"No wonder that some members of the governing parties have let the opinion poll findings go to their heads a little" (Photo: Gareth Chaney Collins)
Justice Minister Frances Fitzgerald
Tanaiste Joan Burton says Fidelity's expansion is a very significant vote of confidence in Ireland's economic recovery
Fianna Fail leader Micheal Martin TD. Photo: Gareth Chaney Collins
Mary Mitchell O'Connor. Photo: Kip Carroll

We asked some of Ireland's most accomplished figures in the worlds of politics to share with us what they believe made them the successful people they have become.

ENDA KENNY Taoiseach

I want us to develop a culture where our capacity to fail, and fail better, fires our success; one where we value courage to take the risk.

When I meet successful entrepreneurs it strikes me that it's what they learned by failing that made them; not alone in the lessons of the market or business, but by acquiring psychological and emotional resilience.

Being a successful country means being a resilient country. It's the same for our young people. We must encourage them to accept difficulty as part of life and support them in developing their resilience. Success is about trying, never giving up, doing what we can to make the difference.

FRANCIS FITZGERALD Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform

What drives me to strive for success? Alongside a busy career in the Army, my father was always into volunteerism, setting up a community band, involving himself with the Citizens Advice Bureau and working with the Polio Fellowship of Ireland.

Volunteerism and community were fundamental values for me growing up.

He always started by asking people about their needs. As a child, I remember trailing after him up laneways when he did surveys about poor conditions. My years as a social worker built on that, leaving me focused on equality, on giving people opportunities, removing barriers, taking action that leads to change.

Denigrated it may be, but politics is the place where, by your actions, you can change people's lives for the better. That's the driver for me.


Mandela once said: "It always seems impossible until it's done." He did nothing less than bring down the tyrannical system of apartheid.

Most of us are fortunate in that we will never face such immense challenges in life. Yet his motto is one with which I, and I suspect everybody can identify.

MICHEAL MARTIN Leader of Fianna Fail

I think the starting point for success in any field is hard work.

In politics, it's also important to show respect and listen as you build trust with colleagues and the public.

It's important also to be true to yourself and stand by your convictions. If you base your decisions on proper motivation, good research and you're honest with people in explaining why you're making the decision, the public respects that and will respond to it.

"I've also always been focused on eating good food, regular exercise and finding proper time with family - that helps me relax and keeps me grounded.


Accident. I own the franchise on success by accident. At least as far as my current career is concerned.

Once upon a time, I was a primary school teacher and became a principal. I loved every minute of every day in The Harold School, Glasthule. It was totally satisfactory because it wasn't about me.

Then I decided to go into politics, and the first day after I arrived in Leinster House as a TD, I managed to do the impossible - drive down the plinth - in front of cameras, which made me famous for all the wrong reasons. But that accidental fame was immeasurably useful. It allowed me to get things done, I might otherwise never have done. I was able to voice the issues that were important for the people who elected me.

When strangers start by saying: 'Of course, I know you', laughing, you learn to be grateful for the laughter that eases the introduction.

Sunday Independent

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