| Joe Hennon
Spokesperson for Commissioner Janez Potocnik, responsible for the Environment
Originally from Dublin.
About your job: I deal with Janez's media relations and planning. I answer questions from journalists, arrange interviews, make sure his Twitter and Facebook pages are running smoothly and help arrange the media side of his visits to various countries. The greatest challenge is to always know what is going on and be able to answer questions on everything from sewage to endangered species! The best thing about the job is that it doesn't involve a lot of bureaucracy and Janez is great to work with – my kind of politician.
Why the EU? Initially I came to Brussels because of the career prospects. I've stayed because I like it. I still feel Irish but have also felt increasingly European over the years.
How do you think Ireland has benefited most from the EU? Initially, undoubtedly through the money channelled into the country via the CAP and Regional Funds. On a less tangible level, I think EU membership brought the country out of its shell and gave people confidence. We've had our problems in recent years but I still think Ireland's place is very much as part of the European family.
Languages: I speak French very well. I learned it in school and then on the job in Brussels. I've had a lot of French speaking colleagues over the years. I also speak Dutch after going to classes and I play guitar professionally with a Dutch-speaking band so that helps. I also speak Irish but not as well as I used to because you don't get a chance to practise it here.
Books/Music: I don't really do favourites but the best book I've read in recent years is 'The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime' by Mark Haddon. It's totally orginal, very funny and very poignant all at the same time. My favourite music album I have to say is 'Alive!' by Omnia. Partly because it's my band and partly because it's true. Check it out ;-) I play with two bands – Shantalla, an Irish/Scottish trad band – www.shantalla.eu – and Omnia: a Pagan Gothic Fantasy Medieval Folk band(!) – www.worldofomnia.com.