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Leo Varadkar - So what do TD's do?


Rocky

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I saw this on Leo's blog today and thought it was interesting and a good exercise in transperancy. Basically he lists out how much time he spent on all the various aspects off his job over the course of the month of March.

I wasn't sure where to put it, but decided on Fine Gael as Leo Varadkar is in Fine Gael.

The Dáil is back in plenary session on Wednesday. No doubt we will hear all the usual stuff about the politicians coming back from a twelve week summer holiday even though most people know this is not the case. Most of us take a week or two or maybe three in August. Within a few days, people will be pointing out that the Dáil chamber is often empty as if they had no noticed before. However, leaving aside the cynicism, there is a valid question to be answered. If TDs are not in the Dáil Chamber, what are they doing?

The answer is, I was not sure. So I did a ‘time audit’ in March to find out. At the end of each day I wrote down what I did for each half-hour period. I think March is a good month to pick as the Dail is in session for three weeks and in recess for one. There is also a bank holiday. It is fairly representative of the year.
The rest and the actual list is available here:
Leo Varadkar » So What do TDs do?
 


SideysGhost

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The amazing thing about that list is how utterly pointless the overwhelming bulk of it is. Wheels furiously spinning but no movement in any particular direction, lots of dashing about acting busy. How much of it actually served any useful purpose towards the better governance of the country? Maybe the 4.5 hours in Dáil Committees.

I did however get a real sense Leo himself is torn on this. He is trying to justify the job TDs do and how many hours they spend at it, but his underlying unease with the pointless and trivial nature of what he actually does all day keeps shining through.
 

Blanchinner

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The amazing thing about that list is how utterly pointless the overwhelming bulk of it is. Wheels furiously spinning but no movement in any particular direction, lots of dashing about acting busy. How much of it actually served any useful purpose towards the better governance of the country? Maybe the 4.5 hours in Dáil Committees.

I did however get a real sense Leo himself is torn on this. He is trying to justify the job TDs do and how many hours they spend at it, but his underlying unease with the pointless and trivial nature of what he actually does all day keeps shining through.
Leo is also a Doctor, has he stopped "doctoring" ??. I ask so that we can see if he's a part time doc or not. He's never addressed in the media as "Dr.Varadkar". Is he drawing 2 salaries ?.
 

Rocky

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The amazing thing about that list is how utterly pointless the overwhelming bulk of it is. Wheels furiously spinning but no movement in any particular direction, lots of dashing about acting busy. How much of it actually served any useful purpose towards the better governance of the country? Maybe the 4.5 hours in Dáil Committees.

I did however get a real sense Leo himself is torn on this. He is trying to justify the job TDs do and how many hours they spend at it, but his underlying unease with the pointless and trivial nature of what he actually does all day keeps shining through.
How much is even done in Dail Committees? In the end the government will always win out.

Most of it is done with the aim of getting Fine Gael into government and keeping his seat and in our system for right or wrong, the only politicians who can really do anything to improve our country are Ministers. Government backbenchers can play some role, but it's a very weak one, opposition TDs even high ranking ones like Varadkar can do close to nothing.
 
G

Gimpanzee

Fair play to him - very worthwhile exercise. But he's hardly representative . Would be worth having a few others from rural constituencies or the smaller cities to give a better feel for what they do.
 

adamirer

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Interesting piece. Be interesting to see other TDs do this too, as a study - as long as they don't inflate certain figures to appear 'better' than others.
 

Libero

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3.5% of his time on the canvass?

0 hours at clinics or funerals?

Leo is practically a philosopher king of Irish politics.

Fair play to him for keeping the log. It would be interesting to know just what sort of support mechanisms he has in terms of his assistant who handles correspondence, constituency helpers, etc.
 

libertarian-right

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Willie O'Dea

I work flat out I do, working at least 400 hours a week.

De Medja (80 Hours 20%)

Shure it involves talkin', yabbin' and flabbin' the ear off me local press plebs. I throw in loads of fine full sentences and they add in the

full stops for me. I usually forget what I say to them the minute I drink me milk before bed time that night.

Houndin' the opposition (80 Hours 20%)

I lurve a good old brawl with them feckin' blueshirts. Those shinners aswell, cant stand em shouting the rebel songs in da local.

Beatin' da BEJAYSUS out of constituency work (160 Hours 40%)

Funerals, Mary's passport issue, Tom's footpath cracks, Josephine's social welfare push through, me local clinics, me singalongs and me speechs on the roadside. Great craic altogether.

Dail and dat nonsense (80 Hours 20%)

Sometimes I haven't a feckin' clue what the bejaysus they ramble on about here.
 

cashinhand

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Good for him, very useful.

An external audit of a couple of dozen TDs selected at random would be even braver! A job for the Comptroller and Auditor General?

The failure of the Financial Regulator, the Governor of the Central Bank, the Minister for Finance, the Taoiseach and the Cabinet to prevent the Celtic Fire is partly down to TDs running around being busy and not focusing on their key role as legislators.

See also: Leo Varadkar » Our National Debt on the National Debt.
 

Dohville

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A very honest reresentation. Each TD should provide a similar breakdown for their employer, i.e the electorate.
 

d7bohs

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Most are polite and reasonable even when they disagree with you or are angry about an issue. They are nothing like the ‘real people’ on Frontline or the people who ring up radio talk shows. The media’s perception of public opinion is so different to that of a politician’s and I think ours is more accurate. Commentators and journalists should do more canvassing!
That's an interesting point, and accurate I think, as far as it goes. Politicians are actually kind of strange in our society in that they do, as Leo says, meet all sorts of people face to face all the time. They don't have the luxury the rest of us have of having our opinions reflected back to us by our like-minded and self selected peers with no invasion from alien or hostile points of view, either in the real world or in the echo chamber of the interweb.

They are also strange in that they, in some ways less mediated than the rest of us. They tend not to watch TV for instance, because they're busy most evenings, and famously, a lot of pols have no clue as to how to use the internet or even send an email.

This is part of why I'll sometimes half- defend the clientism of Irish politics and why I'm dead set against the technocratic fetish many on the right have - the idea that people who have been successful in business have any business in politics, or have something valuable to offer. They don't, or at least not more than anyone else - politics is not simply a management exercise, or about the economy - it's less easy to say what it is, but, it is a peculiar and absolutely distinct pursuit and one of its conditions ought to be a certain generalism and even amateurism. They are there to represent us, remember, and we have concerned that are not exhausted by the economy.
 

Baron von Biffo

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For such a camera hog the figure of 10% for 'Media' looks decidedly small until you se that it seems to involve just the actual time at the mic. Preparing speeches, travelling to studios ans media events like charity functions are hived off to other headings to make it look as if Narcissus spends less time on the river bank.

Interesting too to see that a Dublin based TD who could walk from his office to any part of his constituency spends 7% of his time travelling. At that rate if he represented Cork or Donegal he'd live on the road.
 

Baron von Biffo

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Leo is also a Doctor, has he stopped "doctoring" ??. I ask so that we can see if he's a part time doc or not. He's never addressed in the media as "Dr.Varadkar". Is he drawing 2 salaries ?.
Is he fully qualified? I seem to remember reading that he had to put his medical career on hold because the politics meant he couldn't work the necessary hours to finalise his training.
 

dresden8

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The failure of the Financial Regulator, the Governor of the Central Bank, the Minister for Finance, the Taoiseach and the Cabinet to prevent the Celtic Fire is partly down to TDs running around being busy and not focusing on their key role as legislators.
That's the thing though. Everybody says that TDs should concentrate on national issues not local. They have no input in national issues, their real job is just to vote the way they are told to vote by the whips.

They have no other function at all apart from ineffectual faffing around on committees, where the government gets it's own way anyway.

Legislate me hole.
 

meriwether

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For such a camera hog the figure of 10% for 'Media' looks decidedly small until you se that it seems to involve just the actual time at the mic. Preparing speeches, travelling to studios ans media events like charity functions are hived off to other headings to make it look as if Narcissus spends less time on the river bank.

Interesting too to see that a Dublin based TD who could walk from his office to any part of his constituency spends 7% of his time travelling. At that rate if he represented Cork or Donegal he'd live on the road.
What else is interesting about the second point you made is that he clearly states that he didn't include travelling to and from work in his 'travel time'. Let me quote it for you: This does not include travelling between my home and the Dail. That does not count
 
G

Gimpanzee

Well, there's a whole new line in the superior Leo sagas.

I heard his parents called him Michael, but he's so arrogant he changed his name to Leo to be superior to everyone else.
 

LeDroit

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Is he fully qualified? I seem to remember reading that he had to put his medical career on hold because the politics meant he couldn't work the necessary hours to finalise his training.
He is a fully qualified doctor. He works just enough hours to retain his registration. I heard he doesn't even take payment for it.
 

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