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'I am working from my spare room' - Donohoe

  • Finance Minister says major decisions to come on Covid dole

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Finance Minister Paschal Donohoe bears ‘no resemblance’ to Peaky Blinders star Cillian Murphy after his haircut, he said

Finance Minister Paschal Donohoe bears ‘no resemblance’ to Peaky Blinders star Cillian Murphy after his haircut, he said

Finance Minister Paschal Donohoe bears ‘no resemblance’ to Peaky Blinders star Cillian Murphy after his haircut, he said

Finance Minister Paschal Donohoe says his teenage son is cutting his hair and he's running the economy from the upstairs spare room in his red-brick terraced house in Phibsborough.

Mr Donohoe has adjusted to life in lockdown, like every other parent in the country.

The minister has had changes made to his office in the Department of Finance. The Tricolour and EU flags have been placed behind his desk and a video-conferencing monitor is out front as he participates in EU finance ministers' meetings.

However, he has taken his work home by converting the spare room into an office.

"To look after my own health, and respect the health of all who I work with, I'm now working from my spare bedroom a few days every week, and my department put in place the technology that I need to do that securely quite a few weeks ago. So I'm able to do all of that," he said.

"Which means that all the contact that I now have with the department, in many cases, is now done electronically.

"We've significantly reduced the amount of contact even that I would have with other people. Because in the jobs that I do, I meet lots of people all of the time.

"For example, in my government departments now I'm mainly only engaged with the secretary generals, whereas how I would have done it beforehand, is I would have engaged with their teams all of the time.

"Now, we haven't done that, because we have to be careful of everyone's health. And then I'm working in the way anybody who's trying to keep the company afloat is working."

Mr Donohoe lives in the northside Dublin suburb with his wife Justine and children Oscar (14) and Lucy (12). Family life is similar to many others.

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Cillian Murphy in Peaky Blinders

Cillian Murphy in Peaky Blinders

Cillian Murphy in Peaky Blinders

"The kids are doing the Zoom calls with school. I'm sitting in my spare bedroom, doing my work. Then I can hear my kids do schoolwork in the house," he said.

"When I'm doing Morning Ireland and Newstalk Breakfast, the family are all making sure as I'm doing it that the country can't hear, you know, the normal hurly burly of family life when I'm doing it from the spare room.

"And then when I'm participating in conferences which I now do and do public events on it, again, kind of taking that, you know, as I'm doing it, homework isn't printing out on the printer or all the other stuff that any other working parent is dealing with. It's the same."

His teenage son is also acting up as his barber.

"I know there's lots of dads at the moment that are looking at their son's haircuts, their scissors and their appreciation and desire to emulate Cillian Murphy and looking at that in a new way," he said.

"For the record, when my hair is done, I bear no resemblance to Cillian Murphy, but at least I hope my hair is a bit more in the control."

Mr Donohoe says he will have to look at financial supports and tax breaks to help keep workers at home after the lockdown. The assistance will be on the table once it becomes clear how many people will continue to work from home.

The minister said he expects some employers to want less office space as more staff work from home after the crisis.

This will have an impact on areas like Dublin city centre.

On the formation of a new government, Mr Donohoe said new laws will need to be passed by the end of June or early July, which the caretaker administration cannot do.

"That road will run out," he said.

Mr Donohoe has also announced a series of supports for small and medium-sized businesses.

As the cost of the economic package grows, he also flags big decisions coming next month on whether to continue with the current income supports, the wage subsidy or so-called Covid dole.

"My message to those people who are concerned about the future of those payments is that we will manage this very carefully," he said.

"And we want to try to manage the future of the scheme that is integrated in terms of people's ability to get back to work."