Historic day for Donegal in Dail

Three Donegal TDS were among the 76 new faces who took their seats in Dáil Éireann for the first time yesterday.

Three Donegal TDS were among the 76 new faces who took their seats in Dáil Éireann for the first time yesterday.

The first convening of the 31st Dáil had a very new feeling to it as Enda Kenny was elected the country’s new taoiseach.

New deputies Padraig MacLochlain and Charlie McConalogue joined outgoing TD Joe McHugh representing Donegal North East while Thomas Pringle took his seat for the first time to joining returning Donegal South West TDs Pearse Doherty and Dinny McGinely.

The day was also a new beginning for Donegal’s Fine Gael TDs who found themselves on the government benches for the first time after their leader was elected taoiseach.

There will be no Donegal faces in the new cabinet. Deputy McGinley had been tipped to become the junior minister with responsibility for the Gaeltacht.

But yesterday the Gaoth Dobhair-based deputy shrugged off the media reports.

“All I can say, in all honesty, is it is just speculation and rumour at this stage,” Deputy McGinley said yesterday. “I don’t think anyone knows what they’re getting.”

New Donegal North East TD Padraig MacLochlain paid tribute to two men who influenced him.

“Today is a day that I dedicate to my father Raemonn Mac Lochlainn and Eddie Fullerton. They both served as the flame of Republicanism when times were much more difficult.

“To these two men who shone the light for me, today is for them,

“Today I sat in this seat and I thought of the many people who have sat here before me and above all, I thought of the people who afforded me the privilege of sitting here - the people of Donegal. I will serve them well.”

New Donegal South West TD Thomas Pringle admitted that the first day of the new Dáil was somewhat emotional.

“Obviously when you go up here and think that over 10,000 people gave you their first preference or another vote, it’s a big responsibility,” he said. “And you want to be sure you don’t let them down.”

Fianna Fáil Deputy Charlie McConalogue said it was a proud moment for him to take his seat in the Dáil. “You have to be a member of the Dáil to actually be in the chamber and as much as I might have seen it before and been in the gallery in the past, it was a proud moment.”

The Inishowen man was accompanied to the Dáil by his mother Mary and sister Margaret and was looking forward to joining up with friends and supporters last night. But he said: “I am looking forward to after today to settling down into the work and getting involved in the issues. But today is a day for taking in the moment and enjoying it with your family and friends.”