Thursday, July 30, 2020

MICHAEL Murphy is a musician, Focus Ireland Housing Support Worker and Chairperson of the Labour Party’s Waterford branch. A resident of Bonmahon where he lives with fiancé Celine, the WIT graduate is also Labour’s Local Area Representative for the Portlaw-Kilmacthomas (Comeragh) Area. 

Life in a Day

I am lucky enough to wake up beside Celine; then I get up, have a cup of coffee and by then it really feels like the day has begun!

I live in Bonmahon but work in Waterford City as a Housing Support Worker for Focus Ireland. I enjoy my commute and spend it listening to music and thinking about what the day might entail. I am extremely grateful as I love what I do. My colleagues and I would have a quick chat to say good morning and we get to work. I am proud to work with an incredible group of people whom I admire. I believe our work is extremely important and am inspired to be surrounded by people who are so committed to supporting other people.

My lunch time walk is essential. During the break, I also return any calls I have missed in the morning in relation to my work as a local area rep for the Labour Party. My commute back to Bonmahon is a great time to wind down. I always look forward to seeing the sea as I come around the bending back roads to Bonmahon. It always puts a smile on my face.

Depending on what evening it is. I spend time with Celine, going for walks, meeting friends, playing music and teaching guitar.

A lot of my spare time is spent speaking to local residents about different issues they are facing and doing my very best to advocate on their behalf and come to a suitable solution for them. I liaise closely with Councillor Ger Barron and we work together to achieve the best we can for the residents of the Comeragh area who entrust us with their concerns.

What school did you go to?

Kilrossanty National School and St Declan’s Community College in Kilmacthomas.

What teacher do you remember most vividly?

That’s a tough call. I’ve been lucky enough to have so many amazing teachers. But I’m going to go with a recent teacher – Fergus Hogan, a lecturer of mine at WIT. The man is a calming inspiration. He facilitates you to express your potential in a non-conventional way. Fergus has given me confidence in my own abilities to become what I dream of becoming and continues to inspire me to do my best.

What advice would you give your 15-year-old self?

No one expects you to have it all figured out. You will be a ‘grown up’ for long enough. You don’t have to have your whole life figured out.

How do you relax?

My favourite way to relax is by going for a walk in the evenings. I love a good walk and a chat with my fiancé and friends. I also play guitar so often relax by playing a few songs or chilling out watching the TV.

What is your favourite piece of music?

I simply can’t answer that – my favourite song changes by the day. Music for me is constantly evolving and changing. I love bands like Mumford and Sons, Kings of Leon and the Academic but also love listening to artists like Dermot Kennedy, Hozier, Damien Rice, Glen Hansard.

When was the last time you cried?

About a month ago when a couple of things got on top of me. I would be an emotional person which I believe is a true strength. That doesn’t mean social norms don’t hit me too, they do and I’d be embarrassed if I cried in front of someone which I know isn’t right. It isn’t embarrassing. I would be a huge advocate of positive relationships with our mental health. Everyone has mental health similarly to physical health and we have to care for it and respect it. It is okay to hurt and to feel pain the same way it is okay to feel joy and happiness. The sooner we improve expressing our emotions the better.

What has been your happiest moment of recent times?

Being offered my dream job in Focus Ireland. It has been an aspiration of mine for years to work in homeless services, particularly with Focus Ireland.

Do you pray?

I wouldn’t be a very religious person however I do regularly say words internally to wish a family member or friend the best. I’d say I’m not a religious person yet I’d bless myself every time an ambulance passes me. I respect those who have strong religious faiths and admire it when it is expressed in a non-judgemental and positive way. I have faith in a more equal and just world but do I pray for it? Not consciously but I hope and act towards it every day.

What is your biggest fear?

Not achieving my goals. I am extremely focused and driven. I see an Ireland that is amazing in so many ways but I also see an Ireland which could be better, a lot better. We have the resources and the people to be a more equal and socially just society. I believe we are lacking a sustainable proposal that the people of Ireland can believe in.

What is your most treasured possession?

If talking about material things, then it would be my guitar. I have an interest in cars and love my car but my passion for music would be one that has consistently been with me for a long time. My guitar embodies that.

What is your favourite thing about living in Waterford?

The people. Waterford is my home and it always will be. I feel welcome here, I feel loved here. Waterford makes me feel free, the fresh air, the space but then also the services, the amenities, you feel connected. We should have more sustainable investment, we should have equality in healthcare, a University, etc. These are things to aspire to but my favourite thing about Waterford whether it’s a good day for the county or a bad is the people. In Waterford, people have made me who I am today and I am incredibly proud of that.

If you could change one thing about Waterford, what would it be?

24/7 Cardiac Care. I am incredibly passionate when it comes to housing, I am incredibly passionate when it comes to education but when it comes to healthcare, is there really anything more important? They say your health is your wealth. If someone stole your wealth then they’d be a thief and you would be protected by the State and the law. What if someone denies you a right to protect that wealth? You are entitled to insurance on your wealth, secure accounts, the lot. In Waterford you have a second class and limited protection of your cardiac health after the hours of 9 to 5, Monday to Friday. The enduring campaign for 24/7 Cardiac Care is a testament to the will and determination of the people of Waterford. We won’t stand for this.

I am totally and utterly shocked that the South East does not have 24/7 Cardiac Care based in University Hospital Waterford. I am genuinely appalled. We cannot and will not stop the fight until we get this service for the people of Waterford and the South East.

A fairer and more equal way of living for the people of Waterford is achievable. I believe that I am a person who can bring about that change and I feel the best way to do this is by contesting local and general elections if given the opportunity by party members in Waterford. I want to tackle inequalities like the lack of 24/7 Cardiac Care head on.

In conversation with Dermot Keyes

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