What was your personal highlight of 2017?
Meeting Pope Francis at the Vatican in May.
Did you achieve all you wanted to achieve in 2017?
No. It is a great privilege to serve the people of Laois in Dail Eireann as Minister for Justice & Equality. I don’t take this privilege lightly. While I am really keen to accelerate the programme of reform of the Gardai, my ambition is for 21,000 Gardai across the state in three years’ time.
What was your biggest disappointment/regret of 2017?
Failure by the HSE to consult with local stakeholders and local medical experts on its plan for Portlaoise Hospital.
What was the greatest challenge you faced in 2017?
Embarking on a Diplomatic programme explaining Brexit and it’s impact for Ireland to all EU Foreign Ministers and International Governments.
What was a standout moment for you in 2017 in the cultural sphere
Being present in Dublin Castle for a wonderful music show from Music Generation Laois in honour of the visit of the Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.
Who was the standout personality for you in 2017?
An Taoiseach Leo Varadkar.
What are your goals/ambitions for 2018?
To continue to govern fairly and justly and in the best interests of our society with clear progress to be made in homelessness, health and crime.
What is on your 'To Do' list in 2018?
Additional Gardai in the community in the fight against crime and to continue working for Midlands Hospital Portlaoise.
What is your biggest fear for 2018?
My biggest fear is a possible breakdown of the Brexit Phase 2 talks. Failure to implement a positive Trade deal between the UK and the EU would have an adverse effect on Ireland’s vital national interest.
Aside from yourself who would you like to see be successful in 2018?
Laois people at home and abroad.
What sporting event would you most like to attend in 2018?
Leinster Football Final in a packed Croke Park with Laois playing Offaly!
What cultural event would you most like to attend in 2018?
2018 is be the European Year of Cultural Heritage. The theme for the year in Ireland is ‘Making a Connection’. I look forward to the many local events that will be held around the county to mark this event. As 2018, is designated ‘Bliain na Gaeilge’, I look forward to brushing up on my Irish language skills.
Who you say is 'One to Watch' in 2018?
Portarlington swimmer Nicola Turner has had a remarkable year - she is definitely a sporting star to watch in 2018.
What are your hopes for Laois in 2018?
Everyone in Laois has an equal opportunity to be the best person they can be, where everyone gets a fair go and every child the chance to be the best person they can be. I want to continue to build sustainable communities with a better quality of life for everyone and continue to work towards making life easier for families – childcare subvention, tax reductions, back to school allowance, school meals.