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Labour senator turned Soc Dem takes aim at 'cynical' Leinster House

He was speaking at today’s unveiling of the party’s five new general election candidates.

James Heffernan resigned the Labour whip in 2012.
James Heffernan resigned the Labour whip in 2012.
Image: Mark Stedman

FOUR YEARS IN Leinster House has taught former Labour senator James Heffernan how “cynical” Irish politics can be, he said today.

Speaking at the launch of the Social Democrats’ latest general election candidates, he described becoming disillusioned with his former party after it entered coalition.

The Limerick native (35) lost the Labour whip after voting against social welfare cuts in 2012.

“A certain degree of cynicism has crept into politics and the way business is done in this country,” he said.

I saw this through my own experience in the way Labour said one thing and did another.

Heffernan – who will contest a Limerick County seat in the next general election – was one of five new candidates unveiled today by the Social Democrats, which said it plans to compete the majority of constituencies in the country.

Running for the party in Dublin Mid-West is Anne-Marie McNally (35), an advisor to Kildare North TD Catherine Murphy.

Wicklow TD Stephen Donnelly’s 2011 general election campaign manager, Niall O’Tuathail (30), will contest the Galway West constituency.

Gary Gannon (28), a councillor for Dublin’s north inner city, will stand as a candidate in Dublin Central, while researcher Sarah Jane Hennelly (27) will compete for a seat in Limerick City.

‘David and Goliath’

Speaking at the launch, Dublin North-West TD Róisín Shortall, one of the party’s three TDs, said it is in “active discussion” with several other potential candidates.

She said the party expects to announce another batch within the next two weeks.

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“We’ve been getting a lot of interest from young people,” she said.

Donnelly described the challenge ahead as a “David and Goliath” battle in which candidates will have to face “competitors who have millions and millions [of euros]” at their disposal.

“What [our candidates] are doing takes courage,” he said.

It would be easier to do this with another party that has resources.

Donnelly, Shortall and Murphy still share leadership of the Social Democrats, which was launched in July.

That arrangement will continue into the general election campaign, Murphy confirmed today.

“If you want more of the same,” she said, “don’t look at us.”

We’re not more of the same – we don’t want to be. We took this approach because we bring different strengths to the table.

Read: Ireland’s newest political party will abolish water charges and repeal the eight 

Watch: We asked Stephen Donnelly to tell us more about his brand new party

About the author:

Catherine Healy

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