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From Military Police to Traffic Warden, Mick Whelan tells us his story

 

Mick Whelan

Mick Whelan enjoying his job

 

A jovial, kind yet no nonsense character, Mick Whelan works as a traffic warden mainly in Ballyshannon but also provides cover in Donegal Town and Ballybofey.  Speaking with Mick he leaves you in no doubt about his positive, energetic ‘can-do’ attitude.

 

“I love my job, I love meeting people, I love hearing their stories and I love the banter” says Mick.

 

Originally from the sunny south east and now living in Letterkenny, Mick Whelan recalls his early days and leaving school at 12 years of age. 

 

“I was taken out of school at 12 to work on a farm and a few years later I joined the FCA, now known as the Army Reserves.  I had two seasons with the FCA including a camp in Dublin and one in Tramore Co. Waterford.  They were wonderful experiences and set me on track for a career in the Irish Defence Forces.  We had no telephone and I remember telling my father on the day I left to join the army that if I didn’t get in I would be home that night on the 9.25pm bus, it was a few weeks before I saw him again,” laughs Mick.

 

Mick had a successful 26 ½ year career in the Irish Army including 13 years in the Military Police and 7 tours of duty overseas with UNIFIL, 2 of which were with the Military Police and 5 with the infantry. 

 

It can be safely said that Mick Whelan has experienced many challenging situations but as he says himself “I know if people are upset or annoyed and I try to diffuse the situation as quickly as I can before it gets out of hand”.

 

“No-one likes to get a parking ticket, we understand that and we are not here to catch people out but the rules are in place for a reason and as traffic wardens it is our job to enforce them.

 

“It is our job to control traffic in towns and to make sure that streets aren’t blocked and we are responsible for monitoring the Pay & Display areas as well as ensuring there is no misuse of the double yellow lines or the disabled parking bays.

 

“I hear all types of excuses for example if a car is badly parked a man will often come along and blame his wife for parking it that way” laughs Mick.

 

“Traffic wardens provide a public service and we are here to help people and to give advise and directions if need be.  I have helped start cars, change flat tyres and all sorts of things over the years.”

 

A few weeks ago Mick made the headlines in the local media when he was acknowledged for helping an American lady who found herself in a very distressful situation in Ballyshannon. 

 

Mick explains “I noticed this lady looking very distressed and when I asked her if I could be of help she explained that she was in Donegal for a conference and had travelled from Dublin by bus.  She got off the bus a few minutes earlier but when she turned around the bus had driven on with her luggage still on board.  I immediately contacted my colleague Dominic McNulty in Donegal Town, asked him to meet the bus and get her case, I then took her to Donegal Town and she was reunited with her luggage.  I then drove her to her accommodation in Bundoran.  She was extremely thankful and a few days later I received a lovely thank you card.  It’s always nice to get a thank you but I just see this as part of my job or my civic duty to help out someone in difficulty”.

 

Keeping Fit & Healthy

 

“Another perk of the job for traffic wardens is that you can keep yourself very fit and healthy” says Mick.

 

“I walk 8 to 10 miles a week in my job and I have always been active.  I also love cycling, playing handball and all kinds of sports”. 

 

Mick is also delighted with the new traffic warden uniforms which were introduced last week. 

 

“I am delighted with the new uniforms, they are very distinctive and the personal CCTV camera is also a great job.  I work on my own and the camera is an extra piece of security for me as well as a great deterrent.  We have received training on how and when to use the camera and it means that if a confrontation takes place, proceedings are recorded and these can be used in the event of any investigation”.

 

Mick firmly believes that you have to like a job to do it well and says “I do the job with a smile and after 16 years as a traffic warden I can safely say that I love my job and I am proud to provide a public service to the people of Donegal”.

 

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