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

One of the three leaders of the Social Democrats spoke to TheJournal.ie about the new party today.

15/7/2015 New Political Venture called Social Demo Source: Sam Boal/RollingNews.ie

STEPHEN DONNELLY IS happy to admit that he was nervous as he drove into Dublin from his Wicklow constituency this morning.

After all, it’s not everyday you launch a new political party, particularly one that promises to combine “social vision and economic strength” and introduce a “Nordic model of social democracy”.

“It’s an incredibly difficult thing to do. I was pretty nervous driving in to town today,” he told TheJournal.ie today.

It would be much easier to join a party. So this is a difficult thing to do and by no means is it guaranteed to succeed… it’s difficult and it’s risky.

The morning, at a packed venue on Dublin’s south quays, Donnelly and his fellow independent TDs Catherine Murphy and Róisín Shortall revealed their new joint-platform, the Social Democrats.

The three founding members will lead the party collectively until after the next election where they’ll hope to return with an expanded parliamentary party and elect one leader.

There’s lot of work to do between now and then. After the launch, Donnelly came into TheJournal.ie to tell us a bit more about the country’s newest political party.

donnelly sup

He insisted that he had not flirted with other political parties over recent years. The reality, he insisted, was that none of them appealed to him.

None of these parties represent me. None of these parties represent pretty much anybody I know. They’re stuck in the past, they’re old school, they’re repeating the mistakes of the past. 

So, why the Social Democrats? Watch:

Source: Aoife Barry/TheJournal.ie

The party does not have a structure in place to accept members right now and is hoping for donations to get this up and running along with a steady stream of volunteers to help out.

Donnelly said that “€10, €20 and €50″ donations were already coming in after the launch today. The party needs money to hire people and set up a back office. It would not necessarily be ready for an election if it’s called this year.

At present the parliamentary assistants to the three founding TDs are undertaking much of the work along with a small number of volunteers.

15/7/2015 New Political Venture called Social Demo Source: Sam Boal/RollingNews.ie

In terms of candidates and future members, Donnelly does not rule out the possibility of poaching disaffected TDs and Senators in Fine Gael and Labour, but is reluctant to name names.

There are people in particular I’d like to join but I’m not gonna tell you who they are.

To any prospective member he said:

Go on to the website, look at the values, look at the vision, look at the policy platform… and if you like what you see, get in touch.

On potential coalition partners, Donnelly said that no party, at this stage, is being ruled out:

Source: Aoife Barry/TheJournal.ie

Policy-wise the Social Democrats want a 2:1 split of spending increases and tax cuts in the Budget as opposed to the 50:50 strategy favoured by government.

There’s not a lot of detail on that, but Donnelly stated clearly of his the party’s pre-budget submission for this year:

We’ll be coming forward with policies around lower taxation.

The party also wants to abolish water charges, but not necessarily Irish Water, as Donnelly explains in this clip:

Source: Aoife Barry/TheJournal.ie

There’s also been no decision on what does and does not constitute a red line issue for the party if it is to go into government.

All of which means there’s a lot of work still ahead for the ‘SocDems’, as they might well become known.

Read more: Ireland’s newest political party will abolish water charges and repeal the 8th

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About the author:

Hugh O'Connell

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