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|
|Membership||~ 1,000 |
2 / 158
0 / 60
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19 / 949
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.
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. Thought largely overshadowed by the results of the Green Party its solid results saw strong numbers in Dublin city with breakthroughs in Galway, Offaly, and Cork.
Ideology and policiesEdit
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.
The Social Democrats hold a strong anti-corruption stance. The party has called for the establishment of an independent anti-corruption agency in Ireland to tackle white-collar crime and corruption in the corporate world and political spheres.
|Election||Seats won||±||Position||First Pref votes||%||Government||Leader|
3 / 158
|3||7th||64,094||3.0%||Opposition||Stephen Donnelly (until September 2016), Catherine Murphy, and Róisín Shortall|
2019 local and European electionsEdit
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 5th 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 candidatesEdit
The party received 3% of first preference votes nationally with its three leaders re-elected on the first count in their respective constituencies.
Denotes candidates elected
|Constituency||Candidate||% Votes||Notes |
|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|
- @SocDems (22 September 2016). "Brian Sheehan is appointed as the Social Democrats' first General Secretary goo.gl/hwLI3b" (Tweet). Retrieved 22 September 2016 – via Twitter.
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- "Councillor Paul Mulville joins the Social Democrats". Social Democrats (Ireland). 24 August 2017. Retrieved 24 August 2017.
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- "Ireland's newest political party will abolish water charges and repeal the 8th". TheJournal.ie. 15 July 2015.
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- "Policies". Social Democrats website. Retrieved 3 February 2016.
- Oireachtas, Houses of the (30 May 2017). "Future of Healthcare Committee publishes Sláintecare – a plan to radically transform Irish healthcare – 30 May 2017, 11.46 – Houses of the Oireachtas". www.oireachtas.ie. Retrieved 24 April 2019.
- 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.
- "Soc Dems 'Yes for Repeal' referendum campaign launches in Dublin, Cork & Galway". Social Democrats. 22 April 2018. Retrieved 24 April 2019.
- McGee, Harry. "Social Democrats propose a new anti-corruption agency". The Irish Times. Retrieved 24 April 2019.
- "Tackling Corruption". Social Democrats. Retrieved 24 April 2019.
- "Cllr Gary Gannon to contest Dublin seat in Euro Elections". Social Democrats. 19 March 2019. Retrieved 24 April 2019.
- Kavanagh, Adrian (16 October 2018). "Female candidates contesting the 2019 Local Elections". Irish Elections: Geography, Facts and Analyses. Retrieved 24 April 2019.
- Bray, Jennifer (26 May 2019). "Social Democrats 'reasonably happy' with the party's performance". The Irish Times. Retrieved 29 May 2019.
- Election 2016, RTÉ News, 4 March 2016
- Our People, Socialdemocrats.ie