Social Democrats (Ireland)

Social Democrats
Daonlathaigh Shóisialta
Leaders Catherine Murphy, TD
Róisín Shortall, TD
General Secretary Brian Sheehan[1]
Founded 15 July 2015 (2015-07-15)
Ideology Social democracy[2]
Political position Centre-left[3][4]
Colours Purple
Dáil Éireann
2 / 158
Seanad Éireann
0 / 60
Local government
4 / 949

The Social Democrats (Irish: Daonlathaigh Shóisialta[5]) 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.


The Social Democrats was established with a co-leadership arrangement between its three founding members. Stephen Donnelly first entered politics as an independent TD in the 2011 general election having previously worked as a consultant for McKinsey and Company. 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. During the course of the 31st Dáil, she came to prominent national attention owing to her revelation of irregularities in the dealings of Irish Bank Resolution Corporation and businessman Denis O'Brien. Róisín Shortall is a former Labour Party TD and former Minister of State for Primary Care. She resigned from the role and party in September 2012 due to the actions of then Minister for Health James Reilly, citing lack of support and the lack of an explanation from Reilly as to his decision to locate a primary care centre in his own constituency.[6] 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.[7]

Its other public representatives are Jennifer Whitmore of Wicklow County Council[8] and Gerry Warnock of Longford County Council[9]

In May 2016, the party formed a technical group within the Dáil with the Green Party.[10][11]

On 5 September 2016, Stephen Donnelly left the party.[12]


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.[13][14][15]

Their 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’s applied to the multinational sector
  • Policies that make politics and government more transparent and responsive to public, rather than party need.[16]

It supports Irish membership of the European Union. The party is also in favor of a directly elected mayor of Dublin. [17]

Election results

Dáil Éireann

Election Seats won ± Position First Pref votes % Government Leader
3 / 158
Increase3 Increase7th 64,094 3.0% Opposition Stephen Donnelly, Catherine Murphy, and Róisín Shortall

2016 general election candidates

The party received 3% of first preference votes nationally with its three leaders re-elected on the first count in their respective constituencies.[18]

     Denotes candidates elected

Constituency Candidate % Votes Notes [19]
Cork East Curtin, KenKen Curtin 2.6
Dublin Bay North O’Callaghan, CianCian O’Callaghan 5.2 Fingal County Councillor
Dublin Bay South Lynch, GlennaGlenna Lynch 6.7
Dublin Central Gannon, GaryGary Gannon 9.7 Dublin City Councillor
Dublin Mid-West McNally, Anne-MarieAnne-Marie McNally 6.1
Dublin North-West Shortall, RóisínRóisín Shortall 28.5 TD
Dublin South-Central Coyne, LiamLiam Coyne 5.7
Galway West Ó Tuathail, NiallNiall Ó Tuathail 5.38
Kildare North Murphy, CatherineCatherine Murphy 22.7 TD
Limerick City Hennelly, Sarah JaneSarah Jane Hennelly 5.9
Limerick County Heffernan, JamesJames Heffernan 7.4 Senator
Meath East O’Neill, AislingAisling O’Neill 4.1
Wexford Kelly, LeonardLeonard Kelly 2.3
Wicklow Donnelly, StephenStephen Donnelly 20.9 TD


  1. SocDems (22 September 2016). "Brian Sheehan is appointed as the Social Democrats' first General Secretary" (Tweet). Retrieved 22 September 2016 via Twitter.
  2. Parties and Elections in Europe: The database about parliamentary elections and political parties in Europe, by Wolfram Nordsieck
  3. "Social Democrats latest new Irish party ahead of uncertain elections". Retrieved 6 September 2015.
  4. "Social Democrats?". 24 July 2015. Retrieved 8 November 2016.
  5. Lucht na heite clé radacaí chun tosaigh ar Pháirtí an Lucht Oibre den chéad uair, (in Irish)
  6. "Roisin Shortall resigns as junior health minister". RTÉ News. 26 September 2012. Retrieved 26 September 2012.
  7. "Social Democrats reveal five election candidates". 4 August 2015.
  8. Wicklow Broadband Speeds Below Par,, 7 October 2015
  9. "Gerry Warnock to run for Social Democrats in General Election 2016". Longford Leader. 10 October 2015.
  12. "'Some partnerships simply don't work' - Stephen Donnelly quits Social Democrats in major blow for party". 5 September 2016.
  13. "Newly-formed Social Democrats pledge to abolish water charges". RTÉ News. 15 July 2015.
  14. "Ireland's newest political party will abolish water charges and repeal the 8th". 15 July 2015.
  15. "New Social Democrats group pledge to abolish water charges and repeal the Eighth Amendment". Irish Independent. 15 July 2015.
  16. "Policies". Social Democrats website. Retrieved 3 February 2016.
  18. Election 2016, RTÉ News, 4th March 2016
  19. Our People,

External links

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