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Group of Social Democrats members call for party leadership contest

A statement from the Social Democrats parliamentary party says it is “united” behind the current co-leaders.

Social Democrats TDs and co-leaders Roisin Shortall and Catherine Murphy.
Social Democrats TDs and co-leaders Roisin Shortall and Catherine Murphy.
Image: Rollingnews.ie

A LETTER HAS been drafted to send to the Social Democrats National Executive calling for a leadership contest within the party. 

The letter, signed by two party councillors and other party members, says a leadership contest “would allow members a direct say in the future direction of the party”. 

It is understood that the letter is still in the process of being finalised and shown to members. It may be altered over the weekend.

The letter as it stands says: “We believe that the promise of a member led party is what has attracted so much talent to the organisation and it is now time to review our structures and leadership.

“Our current leadership have done exceptional work in attracting some of the most talented people from Irish civic society. It is now time for us all to move to the next stage.”

The letter requests that the Social Democrats National Executive convenes a meeting to vote on a leadership election.

In response this evening, a statement from the Social Democrats parliamentary party says it is “united behind co-leaders Catherine Murphy and Róisín Shortall”. 

“We are all focused on continuing our important work holding the government to account, particularly in the areas of housing, health and climate action,” the statement says.

“We are hugely ambitious for the party – and building a strong social democratic alternative in Ireland.”

The letter calling for a contest is signed by 16 people in total, including two party councillors – Cat O’Driscoll and Chris Pender.

It says people in the party “have been reflecting, looking at what is ahead for the Social Democrats”.

“We are a party of activists and campaigners, and the pandemic has slowed us down in that regard. We are now ready to move again, and we are looking to what lays ahead.”

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The letter signatories say they believe the party is “ready for a new phase of development and growth”.

We believe the membership of the Social Democrats represent a new wave in Irish politics. To make that a reality we need to be bold and we need to be strong with a united voice.

“Much has changed in the party in these six short years and we would like the opportunity to take stock of where we are and where we’re going.” 

In the 2020 general election, the party gained four additional TDs with Gary Gannon, Jennifer Whitmore, Cian O’Callaghan and Holly Cairns, along with the party co-leaders Róisín Shortall and Catherine Murphy. 

The party was founded by Shortall, Murphy and now-Fianna Fáil TD and Health Minister Stephen Donnelly. Donnelly left the Social Democrats in 2016.

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