Senator Averil Power is one of Ireland’s most talked-about young politicians. However, rather than trending on Twitter for Vincent Browne related gaffes or any cronyism scandal, the former Fianna F?il party member is respected across the party divide for her empathy and skill at tackling some of the trickiest political issues today. Unlike other members of our houses of the Oireachtas, Senator Power hasn’t been scared to speak out on topics such as abortion, Palestine and gay marriage. Her long-running commitment to the latter cause was roundly praised by campaigners this year. She was one of the most vocal politicians seeking a yes vote on the referendum for equal marriage – in fact, she left Fianna F?il over their handling of the party’s yes campaign, feeling there wasn’t enough support coming from HQ.
Another issue that has seen Averil win plaudits is her work on the Adoption Bill. Thanks to Power, people’s lives will be changed. The Bill gives adopted children the right to access their birth certificates with their original names and the names of their natural parents – a cause close to Averil’s heart as she herself is adopted. She grew up in a working-class community and was the first person in her family to go to college, where she was elected President of Trinity College’s Student’s Union. Yesterday, Power caused a social media wave of support after she announced her intention to run in the next general election for a seat in the D?il in the Dublin Bay North constituency. She is running as an independent and told the Sunday Independent she “cares too much to walk away” from life as a public representative.
Here she talks to us about her career so far and the lessons she’s learned.
My first job?
Packing envelopes for €1.50 an hour for a direct marketing company when I was fifteen. I graduated from there to working in supermarkets, pubs and even Copper Face Jacks to pay for college.
The moment I grew up?
When a school friend was killed in a tragic accident and I realised how short and unfair this life can be.
When I was accepted onto the Business, Economics and Social Science programme in Trinity College, becoming the first person in my family to go to college and enjoy all the benefits of having a third level education.
The scariest moment?
My first charity boxing competition.
The most influential person in my life and career?
My inner voice. It always convinces me to follow my gut and do what I think is right even when that is scary.
My favourite part of the day?
Getting home from work to the great excitement of my dogs Frankie and Charlie. They are so happy to see me you would think I had been gone for a month.
I love my job when?
I get agreement on something I know will make a big difference to people’s lives such as my bill to give all adopted people a right to our birth certs.
My best failure?
Narrowly missing out on a D?il seat in the 2011 general election. I was elected to the Seanad instead and have hugely enjoyed my time there.
What makes me excited?
Travelling to far away places with different languages and cultures. I’ve travelled quite a bit in Africa, Asia and the Middle East.
How I want to be remembered?
As an honest, caring person who looked out for others and always appreciated what I had.
Image: Fiachra McCarthy