Social Democrats (Ireland)
The Social Democrats (Irish: Daonlathaigh Shóisialta) is a political party in Ireland. The party was launched on 15 July 2015 by three independent TDs, Stephen Donnelly, Catherine Murphy, and Róisín Shortall.
|Leaders||Catherine Murphy TD|
Róisín Shortall TD
|General Secretary||Brian Sheehan|
|Founded||15 July 2015|
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The Social Democrats was established with a co-leadership arrangement between its three founding members. Róisín Shortall is a former Labour Party TD and former Minister of State for Primary Care. She resigned from the role and from Labour in September 2012, citing lack of support and the lack of an explanation from then-Minister for Health James Reilly concerning his controversial decision to locate a new primary care centre in his own constituency. Catherine Murphy was successively a member of the Workers' Party, Democratic Left and the Labour Party before being elected as an independent TD in 2005. She became widely known for her work as a TD in 2014, when she revealed irregularities within the Irish Bank Resolution Corporation, a bad bank, in its dealings with businessman Denis O'Brien. Stephen Donnelly first entered politics as an independent TD in the 2011 general election, having previously worked as a consultant for McKinsey and Company. Both Murphy and Donnelly were members of the Technical Group in the 31st Dáil, with Murphy having served as its Chief Whip.
The party ran fourteen candidates in the 2016 general election, including its three incumbent TDs, former Labour Party Senator James Heffernan, and county councillors Gary Gannon and Cian O'Callaghan.
In May 2016, the party formed a technical group within the Dáil with the Green Party.
On 5 September 2016, Stephen Donnelly resigned as joint leader and left the party, stating that he was doing so "with great sadness, having vested so much together with my parliamentary colleagues, Catherine and Roisin, a small core team and many volunteers across the country, into the establishment of the Social Democrats over the last 20 months", but referring to his relationship with his fellow leaders, that "some partnerships simply don't work". On 2 February 2017, he joined Fianna Fáil and later became the party's Brexit spokesman.
Through 2017, the Social Democrats recruited several sitting county councillors, including Jennifer Whitmore (Wicklow County Council), Joe Harris (Cork County Council), Dermot Looney (South Dublin County Council), and Paul Mulville (Fingal County Council). In February 2018, June Murphy (Cork County Council) joined the party.
In May 2019 the party saw 19 Councillors elected out of 58 candidates in its first local elections.
In November 2019 the party contested 3 of the 4 by elections caused by the election of Irish TDs to the European Parliament.
Ideology and policies
At the party's launch, its three TDs stated their support for the Nordic model of social democracy, backed the repeal of the Eighth Amendment and the Official Secrets Act, and stated their opposition to domestic water charges.
The party's manifesto for the 2016 general election listed commitments to "three core areas":
- Policies that support a healthy, inclusive and progressive society
- Policies that ensure a strong, stable and vibrant economy, and support Ireland’s SMEs with the same vigour that is applied to the multinational sector
- Policies that make politics and government more transparent and responsive to public, rather than party need
One of the core policies put forward by the party is that of Sláintecare, an Irish national health service. Sláintecare is a fully costed plan for a universal, single-tier public health service that would join up health and social care in the Republic of Ireland. Sláintecare was developed as the result of a cross-Party Oireachtas Committee chaired by Róisín Shortall, which sought to examine the issue of healthcare in Ireland. The report was published in May 2017 and marked the first time cross-party consensus was achieved on a new model of healthcare in Ireland. The Sláintecare policy plan also includes (but is not limited to): a legal entitlement to homecare packages for older people, significantly reducing prescription charges and lowering costs for medicines, providing access to basic procedures at a local level, and improved funding for mental health, including counselling, community programmes, and adult mental health teams.
The Social Democrats have published legislation on equal access and non-religious discrimination in schools, extended unpaid parental leave and greater minimum notice periods for residential tenancies. The party called for a yes vote in the Referendum to Repeal the Eighth Amendment on 25 May 2018.
|Election||Seats won||±||Position||First Pref votes||%||Government||Leader|
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|64,094||3.0%||Opposition||Stephen Donnelly (until September 2016), Catherine Murphy, and Róisín Shortall|
|Election||Seats won||±||First-pref. votes||%|
2019 local and European elections
The Social Democrats contested their first European Parliament elections in May 2019, with Councillor Gary Gannon running for election in the Dublin constituency. Gannon received 5.6% of the first-preference votes, finishing 6th out of 19 candidates in the first count. He was eliminated on the 14th count.
The party also contested their first local elections in May 2019. The Social Democrats put forward 58 candidates for seats on local councils. 55% of the candidates were women, making it the second highest percentage of female candidates put forward among all political parties. 19 of the 58 candidates were elected, more than trebling the party's representation in local government.
2016 general election candidates
Denotes candidates elected
|Cork East||Ken Curtin||2.6|
|Dublin Bay North||Cian O’Callaghan||5.2||Fingal County Councillor|
|Dublin Bay South||Glenna Lynch||6.7|
|Dublin Central||Gary Gannon||9.7||Dublin City Councillor|
|Dublin Mid-West||Anne-Marie McNally||6.1|
|Dublin North-West||Róisín Shortall||28.5||TD|
|Dublin South-Central||Liam Coyne||5.7|
|Galway West||Niall Ó Tuathail||5.38|
|Kildare North||Catherine Murphy||22.7||TD|
|Limerick City||Sarah Jane Hennelly||5.9|
|Limerick County||James Heffernan||7.4||Senator|
|Meath East||Aisling O’Neill||4.1|
|Holly McKeever Cairns||Cork County Council||Bantry–West Cork|
|Patricia Roe||Dublin City Council||Artane–Whitehall|
|Mary Callaghan||Dublin City Council||Ballymun–Finglas|
|Gary Gannon||Dublin City Council||Cabra–Glasnevin|
|Catherine Stocker||Dublin City Council||Clontarf|
|Tara Deacy||Dublin City Council||Kimmage–Rathmines|
|Dave Quinn||Dún Laoghaire–Rathdown County Council||Dún Laoghaire|
|Cian O'Callaghan||Fingal County Council||Howth–Malahide|
|Paul Mulville||Fingal County Council||Rush–Lusk|
|Owen Hanley||Galway City Council||Galway City East|
|Aidan Farrelly||Kildare County Council||Clane|
|Nuala Killeen||Kildare County Council||Leixlip|
|Bill Clear||Kildare County Council||Naas|
|Chris Pender||Kildare County Council||Newbridge|
|Elisa O'Donovan||Limerick City and County Council||Limerick City West|
|Ronan Moore||Meath County Council||Trim|
|Clare Claffey||Offaly County Council||Birr|
|Carly Bailey||South Dublin County Council||Rathfarnham–Templeogue|
|Jennifer Whitmore||Wicklow County Council||Greystones|
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- Our plan for healthcare. Social Democrats (Ireland) official website. Retrieved 2 September 2018.
- "Social Democrats Call for End to Religious Discrimination in Schools". Social Democrats. 19 November 2016. Retrieved 24 April 2019.
- "SocDems' bill to increase unpaid parental leave goes to final stage in Dáil". Social Democrats. 12 June 2018. Retrieved 24 April 2019.
- "Social Democrats welcome cross-party support for renters' rights Bill". Social Democrats. 23 January 2018. Retrieved 24 April 2019.
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- Election 2016, RTÉ News, 4 March 2016
- Our People, Socialdemocrats.ie