RÓISÍN Garvey admits she is “still in shock” with her nomination to Seanad Eireann and acknowledges it will take her a while to get used to being called Senator Garvey.
On Saturday, Green Party leader, Eamon Ryan contacted her around 3pm to inform her she would be going to the Seanad as one of the 11 Taoiseach nominees and only told her parents as she joked “people are very bad at keeping secrets, particularly good ones”.
“I felt really good for the people who helped me in politics. When I lost the General Election I had about 100 supporters helping me. They were nearly more disappointed than me that I didn’t become a Dáil deputy. I think this is a boost for them.
“I can now work on legislation that will help local authorities. Being a senator is an important role,” she said.
She is just the third Clare female Senator following in the footsteps of Tras Honan and Madeleine Taylor-Quinn.
Asked if she had any inclination she would be nominated as a senator, Ms Garvey recalled she and Vincent Martin, brother of Green Party deputy leader Catherine Martin got the two highest first preference, 9.5%, in the General Election last February outside of Dublin.
“I was known in the Green Party as a grassroots activist for doing things. I know a lot of deputies from doing community work outside of politics. I know Brian Leddin from cycling initiatives, Deputy Malcolm Noonnan from community stuff and Eamon Ryan from anti-fracking campaigns and starting the Steiner School near Ennistymon.
“Eamon Ryan wants better Green Party representation in rural Ireland. He wants to make sure he has good strong women in rural areas and now has Pippa Hackett as a junior minister,” she said.
She met members of the Green Party Parliamentary Party on Monday.
The former Green Party Councillor took the train from Ennis to Dublin and used one of the city bikes to cycle to the Convention Centre on Monday.
One of the first things that struck her was the much higher representation of women in the Seanad, which totals 24 or 40% out of the 60 compared with just 14% or four of 28 in Clare County Council.
Ms Garvey was one of the nine women out of the 11 nominated by Taoiseach, Micheál Martin, which also included former Fianna Fáil Deputy Timmy Dooley.
“I was sitting beside Frances Black, Lynn Ruane, Alice Mary Higgins, Ivana Bacik, Pippa Hackett and Pauline O’Reilly.
“I noticed there was a mix of retired politicians like Michael McDowell and young women,” she recalled.
In his maiden Seanad speech, she said it is a huge honour and very humbling to be in the Seanad and looked forward to working really hard for people in the country.
“In my life, I had great opportunities and was very fortunate to work with many children, through Green Schools, teenagers, people with disabilities, refugees, asylum seekers and the Traveller community. They are the
ones who have inspired me to always stand up to use my voice.
“We are facing massive challenges with health, economics and climate change,” she stated
She thanked from the “bottom of her heart” her son, Corrán, neighbours, family and everyone who supported her.