In 1962 Emmetsburg, Iowa and Dublin, Ireland were officially declared "Sister Cities." It has since been a privlege and honor for the St. Pat's Association to host a member of the Irish Parliament to reign over the three day celebration. Through this association, many lasting friendships have been formed.
While visiting in the states, the Parliamentarians are given the opportunity to watch Iowa's governing bodies at work, and are invited to address both sessions the state legislature. Although some have left political life and returned to sucessful businesses, they keep actively in touch with affairs of the government, both at home and abroad.
My name is Senator Gerry Horkan and I am a Fianna Fail Senator based in South Dublin in Ireland. I am a Chartered Accountant, with a Masters in Accounting and a Bachelor of Commerce from University College Dublin.
Before entering national politics, I served as County Councillor for the Stillorgan electoral area of Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown County Council in Dublin from 2003 until elected to the Senate in April 2016. My role involved being responsible for policy-making in the local community, with the implementation of decisions resting with the county manager and their team. During this time I was also elected as Chairperson of two Strategic Policy Committees within the council. I was also elected Chairperson of the Dublin Regional Authority in 2006 and later in 2014 as Chairperson of the Southern & Eastern Regional Assembly which represents over half of the population of the country and subsequently I was also elected the very first Chairperson of the new Eastern & Midland Regional Assembly in 2015. I served as a councillor representative on my party’s National Executive and now serve there as a representative of the parliamentary party. I was also the chairperson of the Fianna Fail National Councillors forum which represents my party councillors all over the state.
Though sometimes challenging, my long time in the council equipped me with the knowledge and skills to take on my next challenge and run for Seanad Éireann.
I was successful in my first attempt and was elected to Seanad Éireann on the Industrial and Commercial Panel in April 2016. I was then appointed as the Fianna Fáil Seanad Spokesperson on Finance and Deputy Whip of our Senate Group by party leader Micheal Martin TD and elected as the Vice Chairperson of the Oireachtas Joint Committee on Finance, Public Expenditure and Reform, and Taoiseach, positions I am privileged to hold.
These positions allow me to give a voice to people locally and nationally on important and often emotive issues. Senators are elected on a national basis so it is important to keep in touch with what is happening all over the country. Public service is a great privilege and every day I work to honour the trust people have placed in me. It helps that I love the work, the responsibility, and the challenge.
I am also the chair of a secondary school board of management in a south Dublin school with approximately 500 pupils.
For me, individuals, families and communities are the bedrock of society, and what attracted me to politics in the first place was being able to get involved and improve the quality of life for all citizens. I felt I could make a difference with regard to the challenges facing people, and that I could help to shape and implement adequate solutions to those challenges. In my time in public life I am glad that I have been able to achieve many things both locally and nationally and I look forward to my upcoming visit to Emmetsburg.