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Political Platform Josepha Madigan TD

First elected to represent Dublin Rathdown in Dáil Éireann in 2016, Fine Gael’s Josepha Madigan TD was re-elected in 2020, and was appointed Minister of State with responsibility for Special Education and Inclusion in July 2020. Previously, she served as Minister for Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht from November 2017 until June 2020.

How did your political career begin?

My progression into political life was not always predetermined or straight forward. While I had grown up in a political household, in that my late father was a councillor for the Blackrock Electoral Area in Dún Laoghaire–Rathdown County Council, I had no interest in running myself for many years.

However, after the implosion of the Irish economy following the recession and witnessing the serious fallout as a result, I decided to volunteer to canvass for Olivia Mitchell in the 2011 General Election.

I never anticipated running myself until 2014 when Fine Gael were looking for candidates for the local elections. When Olivia retired in 2016, I ran in the general election and was elevated to cabinet in 2017.

What are your most notable achievements in the Oireachtas to date?

In July 2016, I introduced a Private Members’ Bill, the Thirty-eighth Amendment of the Constitution (Dissolution of Marriage) Bill 2016 which, once enacted, reduced the time by which a spouse can apply for a divorce from four years to two culminating in an 82 per cent majority vote by way of referendum in 2019.

My appointment as the coordinator for Fine Gael’s Yes campaign in the referendum to repeal the Eighth Amendment by then-Taoiseach Leo Varadkar TD was another moment I will never forget. Witnessing one of the most seismic and significant cultural and political determinations of my generation was empowering, but to have played a part in Fine Gael’s campaign for a Yes vote was something I will always cherish.

I was very proud to have recently passed the Education (Provision in Respect of Children with Special Educational Needs) Act 2022 in the most recent term. The Act seeks to ensure adequate provision of special educational needs placements for our most vulnerable students and providing the necessary supports to schools and their staff.

What is unique about representing the Dublin Rathdown constituency?

Dublin Rathdown is one of the few three-seater constituencies in the country.

It is primarily made up of families who wish to raise their children in some safety and where they have access to schools, churches, shopping centres, green spaces, and sports clubs. Public transport, traffic and housing are all challenges in a constituency like Dublin Rathdown which is very densely populated.

The constituency runs the gamut from the Kilternan in the foothills of the Wicklow Mountains all the way to part of the Dodder in Clonskeagh. Dublin Rathdown has a great community spirit which was exemplified by the kindness of neighbours to each other during the Covid-19 pandemic.

“Fine Gael has a proven track record in managing the economy having brought the public finances back under control after the financial crisis.” Josepha Madigan TD

What are your priorities going forward?

In my current role as Minister of State with Responsibility for Special Education and Inclusion, it is my ultimate priority to ensure that every single child in the country with an additional educational need has a school place.

I know many of us would have some fond memories of our time at school, building memorable relationships with particular teachers, the classrooms filled with colour and music, the play dates and school trips. School is truly a wonderful place, and no child should be excluded from having those experiences.

The budget for special education, the number of SNAs and SETs in our schools, the number of special classes nationwide, and the number of special schools are all increasing year-on-year. Being the first government minister appointed to this brief says plenty about changing attitudes towards supporting families and children with additional needs.

The resources which may not have been available to families in the past are now coming on stream and we are seeing those advancements in care and special education benefitting thousands of our children and young adults each year.

How can Fine Gael maximise its impact during the lifetime of the current government?

It is imperative that Fine Gael in government continues to implement a responsible and calculated management of the country’s finances. We now have more people employed than ever before, and more and more companies are choosing Ireland as the location for their European headquarters, bringing thousands of well-paid jobs. Our economic outlook for the next 12 months is looking positive.

Fine Gael has a proven track record in managing the economy having brought the public finances back under control after the financial crisis, successfully decreasing the deficit without increasing income tax or cutting core social welfare rates of Jobseeker’s Benefit, Carer’s Allowance, or the State Pension. We balanced the budget, recording an Exchequer surplus in 2018 for the first time since 2006. The deficit was
€22 billion in 2011. With Fine Gael in government, Ireland had the fastest growing economy in Europe for five years in a row between 2015 and 2019.

Fine Gael will never apologise for standing up for middle income earners, as well as those on lower incomes. The Tánaiste recently discussed the idea of a third tax band that would assist middle income earners with the cost of living. The squeezed middle, despite paying a large proportion of income tax, do not qualify for many state supports.

Amending the tax bands appropriately would ensure that the squeezed middle does not lose most of any pay increase it gets in income tax, USC and PRSI, and pension and welfare increases.

What are your interests outside of the political sphere?

I like to keep fit by running 5km, usually every second morning. I go to the gym on the days I am not running for strength and conditioning. It is also a good way to de-stress.

Spending time with my husband and teenage sons when I can is very important to me. I read at mass in Mount Merrion Church once a month. I love the theatre and the opera and all types of music.

I am a complete bibliophile. There is nothing nicer to me than a good book and I also dabble in creative writing when I find the time.

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