There have been plenty of column inches devoted to the Government’s lengthy summer break, but last week’s sunny Friday afternoon found John McGuinness at his desk in his constituency office.
He is getting house in order before he hopes to visit his brother in France at the end of the month. He tries to get over for two or three weeks every year.
“Generally August is a time for catching up, rearranging the office, making sure everything you’ve been doing is up to date,” he says.
“It’s a time for dealing with constituency work and arranging meetings and clinics that are otherwise difficult to do when you’re in Dublin three or four days a week. At the end of August, go on holiday, and then in September you’re back into it.”
His additional work with the Public Accounts Committee does eat into his time. He spends a lot of weekends trying to catch up, but it does not negatively affect his other constituency work, even when the committee sits long into the afternoon.
“My [Dail] attendance would be as good as the best you can find,” he says
“But unfortunately, my voting record is affected by it. The PAC is the only committee in the house that doesn’t break for a vote – it continues. I have to sit during the votes that are taken in the house. Because of that, you miss votes.”
Last week was a proud moment for the family, as middle son MJ got married.
“MJ was married; he is on Honeymoon,” he says.
“He’s the first son to get married, I wish both himself and Emma Shore – now McGuinness – very well. I was proud of the fact that Micheal Martin was there at the wedding, with his wife Mary, along with family and friends from both sides.”
His eldest son Andrew is in the office doing constituency work also. Shadowing Andrew’s every move is his new dog, Roxy – a husky – who sometimes comes to work.
John himself has a well-known soft spot for dogs, in particular German Shepherds. In February of this year, he acquired a new pure-bred German Shepherd pup from its ancestral home near the Swiss border.
“I used to breed German Shepherds, here in O’ Loughlin Road where I lived for most of my life until 1996,” he says.
“I often had 15 or 20 German Shepherds, and I decided I would do that all over again. I bought Mikey and I hope to get him a partner very shortly.”
Mikey is an ‘Old German Sheepdog’ – a straightback Alsatian. They are popular for at trials and notable for their obedience. John spends some of his spare time training Mikey, working with him out in Jenkinstown Wood.
“He likes to do the obedience training and that sort of thing,” says John.
“I have him for a bit of fun, you need something outside of politics to clear your head. There’s nothing like Jenkinstown Wood and Mikey for a walk.”