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People are bankrupting themselves to help the SocDems – Catherine Murphy

The new party is garnering more attention after last night’s leaders’ debate.

CATHERINE MURPHY HAS said the Social Democrats are reliant on a huge amount of voluntary work to fight the general election.

The Kildare North TD, who is one of the party’s three leaders, said that a “huge voluntary effort” is helping the new party, which the latest poll places on 4%.

Another of the leaders, Stephen Donnelly, has been widely praised for his performance in last night’s RTÉ leaders’ debate, with his Twitter following increasing far more than any of the other leaders following the debate, according to UCD’s Insight4Elections.

rte-leaders-debate-followers

Speaking in Dublin today, Murphy said: “We’re almost working a miracle on what we have.

People are bankrupting themselves, getting personal loans and in actual fact our head office is functioning on very, very little money.

“We’re relying very heavily on volunteers and we could probably write a very decent paper at the end of this that will show what the practical difficulties are.”

The Social Democrats are running 14 candidates in the general election and hope to win at least seven Dáil seats in order to gain regular speaking rights.

Launch of the Social Demo The SocDems' Limerick candidate Senator James Heffernan at the launch of the party's community banking policy earlier this week.

Murphy said she could not tell the media the amount of money the party has spent on the election campaign so far but said it is “very little”.

She also suggested that the co-leadership arrangement, where she, Donnelly, and Róisín Shortall share the position, could be maintained after the election.

“We’re going to review the co-leadership. It doesn’t mean we will change it, but we will review it and it may well be that it’s changed, it may well be that we leave it the same,” she said.

She insisted it was not something that “really exercises” the electorate.

On entering government and red line issues, Murphy said the SocDems are not ruling any other party in or out but could not outline specific non-negotiable issues in any post-election talks.

What we’re saying very clearly is we have to have a different type of politics. It has to be honest, politics, a strong economy, a fair society. 

She was speaking at the launch of the Social Democrats’ plans to tackle corruption and reform politics.

Among the proposals are to establish an Independent Anti-Corruption Agency that would assume the responsibilities of several existing bodies and tackle white collar crime.

The party also wants to establish an electoral commission, make the Oireachtas and not the government the primary initiator of legislation, reform the whip system, and strengthen Oireachtas committees.

It also wants to reform state funding of political parties so that they receive an amount of money proportionate to the share of the vote achieved in a general election.

Currently parties must reach a minimum of 2% share of the vote in order to qualify for taxpayer funding.

FactCheck: The truth and the lies from last night’s RTÉ Leaders’ Debate

Read: 9 things you need to know about the Claire Byrne Live seven-way debate

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