Social Democrats (Ireland)

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Social Democrats
Daonlathaigh Shóisialta
Leaders Stephen Donnelly, TD
Catherine Murphy, TD
Róisín Shortall, TD
Founded 15 July 2015 (2015-07-15)
Ideology Social democracy[1]
Political position Centre-left[2]
Colours Purple
Dáil Éireann
3 / 158
Seanad Éireann
0 / 60
Local government
4 / 949
Politics of the Republic of Ireland
Political parties

The Social Democrats (Irish: Daonlathaigh Shóisialta[3]) 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.


Since its establishment, Social Democrats has maintained a co-leadership arrangement between its three founding members. 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.[4] 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. 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.[5]

Its other public representatives include Jennifer Whitmore of Wicklow County Council.[6]

On 30 May 2016, the party announced it had formed a technical group with the Green Party in the Dáil.[7][8]


At the party's founding its three TDs stated their support for the Nordic model of social democracy, backed the repeal of the Eighth Amendment and Official Secrets Act, and stated their opposition to domestic water charges.[9][10][11]

Their manifesto was launched in January 2016, and lists 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.[12]

Election results

Dáil Éireann elections

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

2016 general election candidates

In February 2016 the party announced that they would be running candidates in fourteen constituencies in the 2016 general election.[13] They received 3% of first preference votes nationally with all three of its leaders re-elected on the first count.[14]

     Denotes candidates elected to Dáil Éireann

Constituency Candidate % Votes Notes [15]
Cork East Curtin, KenKen Curtin 2.6
Dublin Bay North O’Callaghan, CianCian O’Callaghan 5.2 Fingal County Councillor, originally elected as Labour Party
Dublin Bay South Lynch, GlennaGlenna Lynch 6.7
Dublin Central Gannon, GaryGary Gannon 9.7 Dublin City Councillor, originally elected as Independent
Dublin Mid-West McNally, Anne-MarieAnne-Marie McNally 6.1
Dublin North-West Shortall, RóisínRóisín Shortall 28.5 TD, originally elected as Labour Party
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, originally elected as Independent
Limerick City Hennelly, Sarah JaneSarah Jane Hennelly 5.9
Limerick County Heffernan, JamesJames Heffernan 7.4 Senator, originally elected as Labour Party
Meath East O’Neill, AislingAisling O’Neill 4.1
Wexford Kelly, LeonardLeonard Kelly 2.3
Wicklow Donnelly, StephenStephen Donnelly 20.9 TD, originally elected as Independent


External links