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LOVE OF HIS LIFE I wouldn’t be where I am without wife Mary – and we were great friends first, Taoiseach Micheal Martin says

A tearful TAOISEACH Micheál Martin said he wouldn’t be where he is now without his wife.

The Fianna Fáil leader has been married to his “great friend” Mary since 1989.
She was his teacher before he became a politician. And he calls her his ‘conscience’.

“I wouldn’t be where I am now without Mary,” Martin stated. We both love UCC because it’s where we met and fell in love.

“You know the tale, we were great friends before that. Mary has stayed with me.

“She’s a good networker with a conscience. No matter where you are, if something happens in Cork, Mary is on the phone.

“She remembers who is who, who is related to who, and who is connected to who.”

Mary was a Fianna Fáil member apart from her spouse.
“Mary would have national political experience,” he added. That meant a lot to me because she understood politics.

“She knew I had meetings on Friday nights and Saturdays. She’d insist, ‘You must attend that meeting.’

But, according to the Cork guy, Mary’s life as a politician’s wife has become increasingly difficult.

“Mary would remark to any potential, ‘Know what you’re getting into.’” This existence, Mary would add, is difficult.

“She believes it’s harder now than when we started because of all the web stuff.

“She’s an excellent judge and has a bit of a cop-on in terms of what’s going on within the party, externally, and so on.”

The couple has five children but has lost two.

Mr Martin said he first struggled to speak about their pain because he wanted to help others going through similar experiences.

“I’ve always been reluctant to talk about it in one way,” he said. We kept it quiet as a family, and I found it difficult to talk about at first.

Then, in 2010, Léana died of a cardiac problem at the age of five weeks.

People do respond to ‘what did you do?’ I have recently discovered. And you discover we all had similar experiences.”

“It needs time, first and foremost,” he told the Two Norries programme. The aftermath is dreadful.

The kids, I always maintained, pushed us through — because you had to get up, get them breakfast, play with them.

“I recall being Minister of Education at the time and not knowing what to do. Its jolt destroys all your life’s certainties.

“Exercise is incredibly necessary, and people often laugh at me because I walk so fast.

“I read that you need to get out and walk. I adore walking and nature heals me. I now walk with pals and it keeps me fit.”

“Mary would say everyone approaches it differently,” he added. There is no model to show individuals how to deal. Some coping methods work for some people but not for others.”

Before becoming Taoiseach, he served as Minister for Education and Minister for Health, a post he found difficult.

“Becoming Minister of Education was a dream,” he recalled.

For three years, I was the Opposition’s spokesman. To be fair to the senior Education officials at the time, they ran with it. We did a lot.

“It was a revolution in special needs schooling at the time. Since 1998, students with exceptional needs have had an automatic pupil-teacher ratio.

Mr Martin said bringing in the smoking ban was one of his proudest moments while speaking to the Two Norries on his health role.

“Health was hard,” he said. You’re juggling multiple fires while trying to formulate a strategy.

“We need a strategic strategy for the future of health.

To keep an eye on the strategic goal, we need to step back from the moment’s cacophony.

“If we can get that out of the workplace, we can save lives and money.

“As people, we’re living longer, which causes issues and difficulties. But you must respect others.

“You have to count to ten – you’re not omniscient.

“A Minister must be willing to listen and accept advise, even if it goes against their instincts. It’ll all work out.” as a Youth Officer, which indicated she understood his work.