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Working-class background has helped HSE boss ‘stay on the ground’

HSE boss Paul Reid has said growing up in a one-parent family in a working-class neighborhood has helped him “stay grounded.”

Since the CEO is leading the health service through one of the most difficult times, Mr. Reid said his background has helped him maintain a “good social conscience.”

Originally from Finglas in Dublin, Mr Reid took over the reins from the HSE in April last year and oversaw the response to the coronavirus outbreak.

After starting as an intern installer, Mr. Reid became an underground cable joiner at Eircom and had a career spanning 28 years.

“I literally came from the shop floor and have held management positions, various roles in the organization for many years, and eventually became the Executive Director of Eircom,” he told RTE Radio 1.

“We grew up in a very working-class neighborhood, a very socially disadvantaged area and yes, my mom would have raised the six of us.

“My father – these things happen in families – he had not been there in a long time.

Fortunately, everyone reconciled later. My dad played a great role in supporting all of our grandchildren.

“Sure, my mom was in the foreground and she worked really hard with two or three jobs a day.

“She raised us well, our whole family did a pretty good job of raising our own family, but it was a difficult time.

“I think it justifies you. I never lose my perspective. I have a second chance at education. ‘

After leaving school at the age of 16 and without a Leaving Cert, Mr. Reid continued to earn a degree and a master’s degree in business administration.

“I’ve always been grounded,” he added.

“I think it always keeps you in a good social conscience because from my perspective I’ve seen many of my previous friends go the wrong way, and some of them may be involved in drugs, mental health issues and alcohol abuse and you know you count your blessings.

“I would have always been very ambitious, even at school, although I left early, I was pretty good at school and I liked it.

“I have never been an engineer, I have never been a salesman, but I have led large organizations, so I think that was my thing.

“You really have to understand what makes an organization tick.”