8 a.m.

Colm O'Rourke, head usher

8 a.m.

I arrive in Leinster House and my first priority is to meet with the two team leaders of the early team. They report that all their staff have arrived and all posts are covered. The early team ushers arrive at 7 a.m. to put on their uniforms, collect their radios and other equipment and get briefed on the day ahead. They must be at their posts before the gates open at 7.30 a.m.

I also receive the report from the last night’s late team. If there is anything amiss in last night’s inspection, such as a broken window, we report it to the Office of Public Works.

The team leaders have printed a copy of the events diary. This shows all the visitors expected in the House today. There could be tour groups, heads of states and ambassadors, and we go through the running order of the day in detail to make sure everything is in place. Today, a VIP is expected with a team of assistants, but we’re well prepared. Weeks ago, we drew up the protocol for the visit, including biographies of the visitors, who will meet them on the steps and the level of security they need.

9 a.m.

I go to my office to answer e-mails and phone messages. There could be 30 or 40 messages in my inbox, so it’s tedious enough getting through them.

10 a.m.

It’s nearly time for the Seanad sitting, and I go around the various posts to ensure the ushers have everything in place.

10.30 a.m.

I escort the Cathaoirleach to the Seanad Chamber. This protocol is part of our tradition, and it helps him get to the Chamber in good time. People are less likely to try to talk to the Cathaoirleach when an official escort is in place. The Chamber is locked while the prayer is said, the Seanad sitting commences and I go back down to my office.

11.30 a.m.

Now it’s time to make sure the Dáil Chamber is ready for the sitting to commence and escort the Ceann Comhairle in.

12 noon

The Ceann Comhairle arrives and I robe him. Once there’s a quorum of 20 TDs in the Dáil, the Clerk announces the Ceann Comhairle, and I escort him in to the Chamber.

I head back to my office where more e-mails and messages wait. I also have work to do on protocols for future visits of dignitaries. One of my jobs is to allocate rooms for meetings, and with the committees doing more work than ever, this is a juggling act.

1 p.m.

The late team arrive, and I meet them to make sure all’s well. The early team leaders brief the late team leaders to bring them up to speed on the programme for the day. Both teams work together until the early team leaves at 5 p.m.

If everything’s working smoothly it’s my chance to have lunch. I have made the mistake of staying in the office, but, invariably, the phone keeps ringing, so instead I go to the restaurant. I also walk around to the Dáil and Seanad Chambers to make sure everything is running smoothly.

2 p.m.

I’m at the Merrion Street door to meet an ambassador who is coming to attend the foreign affairs committee. The protocol is in place, so everyone knows what to do. I’ve met this ambassador here before, and that helps me anticipate what needs to be in place. We’ll even remove the narrow revolving door into Leinster House if needed.

3 p.m.

I’m back in my office. As well as providing for each day’s visitors and meetings, there’s long-term planning to be done. We’re trialling a new system for badging and managing visitors. I’m also reviewing security, along with the Superintendent and the Captain of the Guard. There’s a new card swipe system at the gates and we’re looking at bringing in x-ray machines and a system for searching visitors.

I also have a fire safety meeting. It’s an important issue, especially given the age and historical significance of Leinster House.

6 p.m.

I’d usually be thinking about going home, but once or twice a week I stay on until the Houses are closed for the night. As people leave the various offices, the late team checks that all lights and appliances are switched off and windows are secured.

10 p.m.

The Dáil adjourns. The Dáil is usually the last to finish, and the Members’ bar stays open for an hour after the Dáil adjourns. These days, fewer Members and staff are in the bar at this time than before. The turnover of staff and Members for the past five years is 72%, so most people are fairly new.

11 p.m. - 12:30 a.m.

11 p.m One hour after the Dáil adjourns, we do a final sweep of the offices, lock them and write the report.

12:30 a.m. Leinster House is closed for the night. I inform the garda posted to the gate, and go home.

Colm O'Rourke