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Friday, 19th April 2024
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The Independent Senator Back  
Juggling two roles as a Senator and business editor of The Sunday Independent makes for an interesting day for Shane Ross, who divides his time between meetings in Leinster House, and finding scoops for the Sunday newspaper.
Up at 6.30am I take the daily walk around the roads of Enniskerry, Co Wicklow with Ruth and the dogs. Hear the early business news on RTE's 'Morning Ireland' and on Newstalk. Then a dash for a quick swim. Ten lengths of the pool. Hear the later 7.50 business news over a breakfast of muesli, fruit and green tea. I have become a complete food wimp.

8.15am I check the early emails. An article for the Sunday Independent, sent at 3.15 am in the morning has arrived from one of our more nocturnal freelances. I read it, amend it slightly, and forward to the subs in the paper.

8.45am Head for Leinster House. I am on the blower for the whole car journey, chewing the ear off various victims, trying to drum up stories and features for the weekend and attending to Senate constituents.
Shane Ross


9.30am Meeting in Leinster House. Today it's a childcare group lobbying about the need for the state to recognise the value of parents and how the Government should show material approval of their contribution to the booming economy. They are right. I put down a Seanad motion (my second one) calling for more recognition of the pressure on parents working both inside and outside the home.

10.30am Down to the IFSC. A few of the movers and shakers of the financial services industry drop into O'Brien's Sandwich Bar. I meet Nick Webb, deputy business editor of The Sunday Independent. We decide on the week's plan for the Business Section. Or, at least, HE does. By Friday it will all be changed, but it is important to have a skeleton in place. Some of our ideas will survive, several will be over-taken by events. One of my best undercover business sources passes by, head down, as we leave the IFSC. We pretend not to know each other.

11.30am Into The Sunday Independent office in Talbot Street. Boring, boring, boring admin work. Pay freelances for previous week's work. Check messages. Zap all emails from PR companies without reading them. A sweet voice from yet another public relations firm rings to ask if we have received her fax. I childishly tell her we haven't, not to send it and that I will bin it if she does. Then I feel thoroughly ashamed of myself for being unkind to some one who is merely doing her job; but, like all PR people, she is an overpaid pest.

1pm Lunch in Leinster House. It consists of a plate of smoked salmon and a pot of tea. Today it is with a mole from the auctioneering world who tells me of some of the inside horrors of the trade. He refuses to name names or go public with them. Senator Joe O'Toole and I have pursued rogue auctioneers in the Senate for years. Today's mole confirms most of my worst fears. He is happy with the Government's Commission on Auctioneering, but says the malpractices are even worse than it found. The Senate and Dail are stuffed with estate agents, so we both expect reform to be slow.

2pm Into the Oireachtas Library to study a traffic report on the M50. Make various telephone calls to the NRA , the DTO and motoring lobby groups to see what can be done. I sympathise with the road hauliers who are protesting, but could never support an effort to block the motorway. It would achieve nothing except more misery for commuters.

3.15pm For my sins, I am this year's President of Trinity College's Business Alumni. I make several telephone calls to arrange upcoming events. The next dinner stars Irish Life & Permanent's Gillian Bowler as guest speaker. We have already featured Google's John Herlihy, CPL's Ann Heraty and Leo Martin of Grafton. The dinners are packing out. Barry O'Callaghan of Riverdeep is booked for later in the year. A great networking outfit with a committee of younger business graduates who actually deliver.

4pm I head for a board meeting of a hedge fund down in the financial services centre. The hedge fund industry is booming. Colin McClean, the manager of SVMGlobal's Saltire Fund, tells me that our fund is already showing a return of fifteen percent this year. Far better than the payback from conventional fund managers, who extort huge fees and show only modest returns. Colin is a Scot with a record which would put our local practitioners to shame.

5.30pm Straight from the board meeting, I visit my father in St Vincent's Hospital. He has had a hip operation and is making a good recovery. The nurses dispute does not seem to be having any effect on patient care. They are all working like Trojans.

6.15pm Back to Leinster House. Start to write my manifesto for the TCD Senate election. There are 45,000 Trinity graduates entitled to vote. Every candidate is allowed a free post mailshot to each elector. My opponents are well-organised and most of them would be great senators; but they know bugger all about finance.

Willie Walsh of British Airways and economist David McWilliams are my two nominators, so I hope that the electorate gets the message that my principal strength lies in this area. In the last Seanad there was virtually no financial expertise. Hope none of them read my disastrous share tips for the last year!

7.15pm Reply to urgent emails. Then head home for dinner. Again, I use the journey time to persecute some poor sods into producing a good piece for the business section of the Sunday Indo. Ruth has cooked a chicken dinner to keep the cholesterol down. Both of us live in daily terror of heart attacks!

8.30pm I head straight to the PC to type a story for the Sunday Independent. No time for television. I read most of the day's financial news on the internet.

9.30pm Miss the nine o'clock news. Instead, I prepare for an interview with Radio Four about Irish politics, our economic prosperity and even the rise of Sinn Fein in political life.

10.35pm I have not been sleeping too well so I switch on 'Questions and Answers' on RTE One. It does the trick again. I cannot remember a single thing said by any of the participants, including Micheal Martin and Richard Bruton. Wake up and head for bed at 11.30. RTE's 'Eleventh Hour' is booming in the bedroom as Ruth listens to RTE 24/7 in the hope of a snippet for her 'Playback' programme on Saturday morning. If Q&A was a tranquilliser, the 'Eleventh Hour' acts as an anaesthetic. My sleeping problems are solved.

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