Tuesday 12 December 2017

Social Democrats confusing voters, admits Donnelly

Stephen Donnelly with David and Stephen Flynn from The Happy Pear in Greystones, Co Wicklow. Photo: Damien Eagers
Stephen Donnelly with David and Stephen Flynn from The Happy Pear in Greystones, Co Wicklow. Photo: Damien Eagers

Stephen Donnelly accepts that his fledgling party the Social Democrats is confusing some voters ahead of the General Election.

Mr Donnelly spent most of his professional career working as an economic consultant in the business sector before running as an Independent five years ago.

Then last year, he joined forces with two former Labour Party members - Roisin Shortall and Catherine Murphy - to form a party the three believe will bridge the gap between their very different political visions.

"We are trying to do something that is confusing some people, that is to say we are pro-business, we are fiscally responsible by not cutting the USC and we have what we believe is an exciting social vision around high quality public services and all that good stuff," Mr Donnelly said.

"You can have a desire for the most beautiful public service and social vision you want but if you don't have a decent business sector and an economy to back it up its not going to happen," he added.

Mr Donnelly is tipped to take one of the five seats in the constituency as is Fine Gael's Junior Finance Minister Simon Harris and Sinn Féin Wicklow County Councillor John Brady.

But he is taking nothing for granted and said he is at a disadvantage to the bigger parties which are outspending him by 100 to 1.

"I have to be very careful, I only got in by 57 votes last time and we don't have the machine or the money for the campaign, and we don't have the transfers," he said.

Meanwhile, sitting TD Billy Timmins, who joined Renua after leaving Fine Gael over the Protection of Life During Pregnancy Bill, will hope his personal brand secures him a seat.

Mr Timmins has represented Wicklow for almost two decades after replacing his father Godfrey who was also a TD for more then 20 years.

Fine Gael opted for a three-candidate strategy and the party believes sitting TD Andrew Doyle will also be returned.

Having narrowly missed out last time, Sinn Féin's John Brady will hope his party's increasing national support will see him land a seat.

The Bray-based councillor's rise is likely to come at the expense of sitting Labour TD Anne Ferris, who many in her party insist would be a huge loss to national politics if not re-elected.

Fianna Fáil's Pat Casey has a good chance of a seat if the party performs well nationally.

The other candidate to watch is former Fianna Fáil councillor Joe Behan, who is now running as an Independent after quitting the party in 2008.

PREDICTION: Two Fine Gael, one Fianna Fáil, one Sinn Féin, one Ind/Other

Philip Ryan

Irish Independent

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