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Party leaders Catherine Murphy and Roisin Shortall speaking to the media as the Social Democrats held their ‘think-in’ at the Communications Workers Union in Dublin. Sasko Lazarov
party meeting

Social Democrats have 'no desire' to merge with the Labour Party

Catherine Murphy and Róisín Shortall confirmed that it is their intention to lead the party into the next general election.

THE SOCIAL DEMOCRATS has ruled out any potential merger with the Labour Party.

The co-leaders Catherine Murphy and Róisín Shortall have also confirmed that it is their intention to lead the party into the next general election.

Speaking at the party’s think-in in Dublin today, Murphy said that she and Shortall plan to lead the party into the next election.

Speaking about a letter drafted by a number of councillors calling for a leadership contest within the party during the usmmer, Murphy said it didn’t make it to the national executive of the party. 

There was “very little support for that within the party”, said Murphy.

When asked about a potential merger between the Social Democrats and the Labour Party, both Murphy and Shorthall ruled out such a move.

“We need new political entities,” Murphy said.

Talk of combining the two parties is not something that comes up within the party, she added, though Murphy highlighted that it has been mentioned by the Labour Party. 

“It’s mentioned by political commentators, but there’s no desire within the Social Democrats for a merger. There’s a desire to build, and build up quicker, that’s just the scenario from within.

“I think there is an issue of trust with [Labour] and the public, and I know you have to compromise in government, but you don’t have to sell your soul,” said Murphy.

She said their intention is to build the party, telling reporters today that new political parties should be the future of the Irish political landscape.  

 There is “room” and “an appetite” for new ideas, she added. 

The party, which has six TDs, said there focus for the next Dáil term will be on climate action, housing, and health.

Wicklow TD Jennifer Whitmore said there is a will for all parties to work together to bring about climate action, but she said it needs to be done in a co-ordinated manner.

Climate targets must be met quickly, as “the clock is ticking”, she said.

Shortall predicted there is going to be a “wave in demand” for mental health services as we emerge out of the pandemic. It is not yet known what the level of anxiety, isolation and bereavement people are facing into, she said, calling for a boost to funding in the area.

She also also spoke about he belief that the government “could have handled things better” when it came to Covid-19. Shortall was a strong advocate for a zero-Covid policy over the last year and for mandatory hotel quarantine.

She pointed to Australia and New Zealand as examples Ireland could have followed, though she acknowledged that they are in a very different point now in terms of lockdowns. 


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