TDs and Senators are preparing to dig their walking shoes out of the wardrobe and hit the beat again - all in the name of charity and not electioneering!
This Sunday sees the second annual Oireachtas Hill Walk taking place in Taoiseach Brian Cowen’s back yard - the Slieve Bloom Mountains in Co Offaly.
This year’s charity of choice is the Irish Heart Foundation and our energetic TDs and Senators will be hoping to top the €6,000 they raised last year for Autism Ireland.
Ringleader-in-chief of the Oireachtas crew is none other than multi-All-Ireland-medal-winning Jimmy Deenihan - still one of the fittest men in Leinster House.
Jimmy has become the fitness tzar in Leinster House, organising soccer, GAA and hurling matches among Oireachtas members.
Joining Jimmy this year on his mountain walk will be Senator Fidelma Healy-Eames, Senator Ivana Bacik and Deputies Ciaran Cuffe, Chris Andrews and Liz McManus.
And it won’t be an easy afternoon out for our politicians - they will be professionally guided along a 15 km trek!
Tzar Deenihan said the money raised through this walk will be ploughed into the Irish Heart Foundation’s CPR programme for schools.
“A walk through the Slieve Bloom mountains is relatively easy. It wouldn’t be as hard as the MacGillycuddy Reeks. It will be an all-party exercise - there are representatives from all parties both in the Dail and the Seanad taking part,” he said
As the sponsored trek will take place in Brian Cowen’s backyard, he has been asked to officiate at the starting of the walk but a busy schedule on the day may prevent him from actually taking part in the walk.
Speaking of his fellow politicians, Tzar Deenihan said their fitness levels are ‘reasonably good’ but he said he would like to see more of them using the Oireachtas gym to fine tune their fitness.
“TDs and Senators, because of their heavy schedules, find it hard to find the time to use the gym. The gym has basic equipment but enough for good cardio training and weight training,” he said.