Da's favourite pub grub? A lamb chop dinner at The Armalite and Ballot Box

Gail Bell asks experts and people in the public eye what keeps them going. This week: Da (aka Tim McGarry)

Da (aka Tim McGarry) – Stormont’s answer to Jamie Dornan. Does Guinness count as a health supplement?
Gail Bell

1. Up and at it – what is your morning routine?

Before the election and because I am a Sinn Fein MLA, I needed to get out and get canvassing. So, up until recently, I was wide awake and out of bed first thing – around noon. I’ve been having a lot weird dreams this past while. This morning I dreamt that my darling wife, Ma, got out of bed at 8.30 to make me my breakfast in bed. She brought me smoked salmon, scrambled egg and a glass of Champagne. But, when I looked up to thank her, it wasn’t Ma at all, but Arlene Foster dressed as a crocodile and talking to me in Irish. I’m not sure what that means. Now that I've been re-elected as an MLA – by a landslide – I will spend all my working day in Stormont. This is a great time to be an MLA because there won't be any work to do. Usually when Cal (my SPAD) and I head off to Stormont each morning, the first thing we do is check what expenses we can claim. That is always the best part of the day.

2. What might you eat in a typical working day for...

Breakfast? I’ll eat all my meals in the subsidised restaurant at Stormont but, for breakfast, I have a cup of tea and any cereal that has a plastic toy in it.

Lunch? I'm very bad at lunch but when I'm in the assembly, I always try to sit next to Jim Allister, just to annoy him.

Evening meal? I am a very sophisticated eater with a finely tuned palate, so, for my evening meal I always have a well done steak and chips.

3. Is nutrition important to you?

Nutrition? I know we’re against partition, but I’m not sure what the Sinn Féin policy is on nutrition. If Gerry’s against it, then so am I.

4. Are you a calorie counter?

No, life is short enough already.

5. Best meal ever?

My favourite meal is always one that someone else is paying for. I do love a good lamb chop dinner served up at The Armalite and Ballot Box. Great pub grub in that place.

6. Do you have a guilty pleasure?

Picnic bars and Maltesers – I love them. Plus, I actually like Brussels sprouts. Ma and I always eat loads of sprouts on Christmas day and then compare who can fart the loudest. It’s the most romantic we get.

Da, on left, with GIve My Head Peace comedy colleagues, could easily have been an All-Ireland winning hurler but dedicated his life to politics

7. Have you ever been on a diet? If so, how did it go?

Ha, ha, ha – wise up. A diet? What for?

8. Do you take health supplements?

Do people actually take those? Seriously? Oh hang on, does Guinness count as a supplement?

9. Tee-total or tipple?

I am very partial to a pint of Guinness and I want to put it out there now, that Da is available for sponsorship deals. If anyone from Guinness is reading this. I’ll happily wear a Guinness T-shirt and drink a pint while asking Arlene Foster hard questions about RHI in the assembly chamber.

10. Fruit or fry-up?

Both – well, a tomato is included in a fry, isn't it? And you can even grill it, which makes it even healthier. Win-win.

11. Stairs or lift?

The stairs because the bloody lift at Divis Towers still isn't working. In 2001, I promised to have it fixed when I became an MLA, but, you know, when you get elected, sometimes you forget about the promises you make. I live 13 flights up, so it's a long walk to my front door.

12. Do you have a daily exercise regime?

No – A lot of years ago, I did a lot of running. Well, when I say I did a lot if running, I was actually on the run. But that was years ago.

13. On a scale of one to 10, how fit do you think you are; how fit would you like to be?

Why do you even have to ask that? I’m extremely fit. Women look at me all the time and go, 'That's one fit looking man'. I’m known as Stormont’s answer to Jamie Dornan.

14. Best tip for everyday fitness?

I would have to say 'bin the fags'. Gerry gave up smoking the pipe years ago and I did the same. Giving up smoking is the best thing you can do for your health.

15. Do you have a memory from school sport / PE days you would rather forget?

I could easily have been a world class sports star or an All-Ireland winning hurler, but, instead I dedicated myself and my life to politics. I decided to dedicate myself to politics when I was doing PE in school and somebody hit me a massive whack on the head with a hurl. I was a bit unlucky because we were playing soccer at the time.

16. Did you ever have a health epiphany which made you change your lifestyle?

Earlier this week, I realised that I am going to be on stage from March 1 to 26 with Give My Head Peace Live. This will be a massive change in my lifestyle, as I will not be in the pub for a month.

17. Best health advice you were ever given and would pass on to others?

Never get a tattoo – I got one in 1978 that says, 'Brits Out! No Return to Stormont'. And now that I'm actually at Stormont, it looks a wee bit stupid. And grow a beard – it makes you look mature and intelligent and wise. Lastly, and most important of all, cancel that gym membership, cos you’re never going to use it, are you?

18. Who would you try to emulate in terms of fitness / attitude to life?

The great Gerry Adams, of course. I really admire the way he trampolines naked with his dog in Co Louth while still talking. One day I hope to be on that trampoline with him. I reckon Gerry and I could take Irish politics to new heights.

19. What time do you get to bed normally and do you think you get enough sleep?

I never get to bed before 1am and the reason for that is if I go to bed early there is the slight chance that Ma might still be awake...

20. Would you say you have a healthy attitude towards your own mortality?

Absolutely. I am 100 per cent happy to go when the time comes. But, I do want a full state funeral and a volley of shots fired over my coffin.

:: The Give My Head Peace gang appear in a new comedy show at the Grand Opera House, Belfast, from March 19-25. See


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