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The Mayor Necessities
Andrew Montague is coming to the end of his one-year term as Lord Mayor of Dublin. In a refreshingly candid interview, the Labour councillor talks about God, love, addiction, the Dublin Bike scheme which he initiated – and why we should have an elected Lord Mayor for the city.
Olaf Tyaransen, 27 Jun 2012
Andrew Montague, the outgoing Lord Mayor of Dublin, is coming to the end of his tenure. “I’m really not looking forward to leaving this place,” the silver-haired 44-year-old admits, with a heavy sigh.
He waves his hand expansively. “I mean, like, this room is where I eat my breakfast. Amazing.”
The room in question is an impressively high-ceilinged, wooden-floored affair, with expensive antique furnishings, valuable oil paintings on the walls, and a long polished table that could easily accommodate 20 diners. Steeped in political history, from Éamon de Valera and Michael Collins to Charlie Haughey and Bertie Ahern, leading politicians and reprobates alike have breakfasted here.
Earlier, Montague had given Hot Press a brief tour of the Mansion House. As its name suggests, it’s a very fine gaff indeed, and its current occupant proved a hugely informed guide. There’s a story behind each and every one of the numerous portraits of previous incumbents hanging on the walls, and he seems to know them all. His favourite painting is the large oil of Daniel O’Connell that hangs in the main entrance hall. Montague’s political hero, the ‘Great Liberator’ was Lord Mayor of Dublin in 1841, and campaigned against slavery in the US at a time when it was neither popular nor profitable.
It isn’t just the thought of moving that is bothering Montague. The previous day’s Evening Herald ran a story – with the front page headline ‘DRINK TEST PREGNANT WOMEN - MAYOR – claiming, misleadingly as it happens, that Montague was calling for women from working-class areas to be tested for alcohol use during pregnancy. “I’ve written to them asking for an apology and a retraction,” he says. “If I don’t get one, I’ll take them to court.” (An apology appeared the day after our conversation).
Born and raised in the northside, and a qualified vet, Andrew was first elected to Dublin City Council in 2004 as a member for Ballymun-Whitehall. He was re-elected in June 2009 for the redrawn local electoral area of Artane-Whitehall. He is the man behind the Dublin Bikes scheme, which has proven to be such a huge success in the city.