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Each man in his time plys many parts
If, as The Bard had it, all the world’s a stage, then Green Paul Gogarty is a better actor than most. He’s been a New Romantic, a busker, a journalist and an editor before being elected to the Dáil. But even that is only half of it. In a remarkably open interview, he talks about the price of being in government with Fianna Fáil, his multiple identities on web fora, rumours that he was gay, the issue of depression – and the true story of his adoption.
Jason O'Toole, 27 Feb 2009
I can vividly recall Paul Gogarty busking outside Grogan’s pub in Dublin’s city centre. Unusually for a future TD, Gogarty could be found every Saturday on his patch, in his trademark New Romantic mascara, strumming melodies that nobody seemed to be familiar with...
As an icebreaker, I mention this to Gogarty. “I used to busk up until the year 2000,” he laughs. “I’ve written 50 or 60 songs myself and – rather than play cover versions – I liked playing my own stuff outside Grogan’s in Castle Market because people sitting down at nearby cafés had time to listen and give their verdict. They were better customers than passers-by.
“When I was in college, I busked three or four times a week to make a few quid. After that, I continued doing it every Saturday – it wasn’t so much to make money, as the fact that I loved singing and it was good practice. I feel I’ve kind of gone downhill in the last four or five years – but I can still definitely sing...”
The interview is taking place at lunchtime in a popular Maynooth pub, but that doesn’t inhibit the colourful TD from demonstrating his flair for singing. The revellers at the bar quickly turn around to hear him singing George Michael’s ‘A Different Corner’ a cappella. He then further demonstrates his musical prowess by singing some opera. “That’s a load of bollix!,” he jokes. “But as I say, I’ve got a reasonable range. I won second prize in a karaoke competition in Athlone – dressed up as Boy George! The only reason I lost is because I was up against a local!
“One time though, I was actually busking on Grafton Street when this guy came up to me and said that he used to manage a couple of bands. He gave me his number. Turned out it was Eoghan Harris, of all people, so maybe I misheard him! I rang him a few months later but he said he was too busy. This was around the time of the infamous Twink sketch at the Fine Gael Ard Fheis. Maybe he should have stuck to management!”
Gogarty, who grew up reading Hot Press, had an ambition to appear in this magazine as a bona fide musician. Sadly, that never happened. Instead, Gogarty has arrived in the political sphere as one of six Green TDs who, as he admits himself in this extraordinary confessional interview, are “propping up” the current Fianna Fail-lead government.