Stephen Donnelly TD
Following his unexpected departure from the Social Democrats Stephen Donnelly went on the Pat Kenny show on Newstalk where he spoke with Jonathan Healy (sitting in for Pat) about his future plans.
Jonathan Healy: First of all, after all that’s happened this week, has the dust settled somewhat?
Stephen Donnelly: “Yeah, I think it has. It’s been a tough few days, the decision on Monday was a very sad decision for me, personally. It was some time in coming, y’know, I’ve been considering it, I’ve been talking to some people, but I’ve been immersed in the Social Democrats for the best part of two years, and it was a very intense thing to do. I’m very proud to have done it, very proud to have worked with the people that were involved with it.
..it was a sad day, but yeah, life moves on. The country moves on, there are important things to be doing. We’d #appletax on Wednesday, we’ve the new vulture fund amendment for Minister Noonan, which is a great first step, a lot of additional work, so life moves on. There are more important things than the soap opera of politics.”
Healy: “Well, we’ve all been through dramatic breakups in our lifetimes. This was quite dramatic, as your fellow co-leaders, if I can call them that, were suggesting you were workshy, did that hurt?”
Donnelly: “No, it didn’t hurt at all, I grew up in Ireland with a mop of red hair, you learn to get a fairly thick skin pretty quick. I’m more than capable of throwing stones across the House, I have done so many times over the last six years, so not at all.”
Healy: “Were you workshy, that’s the question!”
Donnelly: “No. One of the comments I made to one of my colleagues was ‘if they’re going to have a go, you’d think they’d pick something with a little more credibility’. There’s nobody involved in setting up a new party, and to be honest, Jonathan, very few people in politics that are workshy. It’s an intense job, it’s a very rewarding job, but no, clearly there was no merit to that. Look, it was a tough week for everybody, they felt they had to say something. I think it was disappointing, they let themselves down, it’s irrelevant.”
Healy: “Have you spoken to Roisín [Shorthall] or have you spoken to Catherine [Murphy] since this happened on Monday?”
Donnelly: “No, no we haven’t. We had an awkward session in the Dáil with the three of us in there as we’re all still in the same technical group. But we’re all there to serve, you know, and we’ll move on. We’ll all do the best we can as TDs, the best we can to our ability, so we’ll just move on.”
Healy: “You want to be in government, you’ve made that clear…”
Donnelly: “Sorry, can I, sorry to cut across you there, I haven’t made that clear, that’s not why I’m in politics…”
Healy: “No, your motivation is, if you’re in government in whatever capacity, you make more of a difference.”
Healy: “That’s what I’m saying.”
Donnelly: “Sorry, yeah.”
Healy: “You have more of an opportunity now, perhaps, to do that, because, we know the arithmetic in the Dáil. There are many people now outside of your own constituency, who would like to see you serve some way in government. And let’s face it, you’re hot property, in political terms, Fine Gael might want you, Fianna Fáil might want you, is the phone ringing?”
Donnelly: “No, the phone isn’t ringing, I’ve had a few texts from a few friends of mine in some of the other political parties, I haven’t been approached on John [Halligan], and John is a Minister of State, not said that he’s resigning, but he has obviously sent out a few warning shots, and is taking the situation in Waterford very carefully. But, y’know, Minister Halligan has a job, and no-one is taking his place, because he’s doing it.”
Healy: “I was asking more about Fianna Fáil, who seem to be linked to you in some way. Has a call come through from Mícheál Martin yet?”
Donnelly: “No, no call has come through, I have taken soundings, I will continue to take soundings both in Leinster House and more importantly here in Wicklow. I was around the constituency yesterday, around Arklow town and Wicklow, talking to supporters, and talking to people on the street. Just listening. You know, ultimately, I work for them, we work for them. So, it’s important that I hear what they have to say on the best thing to do…
Healy: “So for now, you’re staying as an Independent, for now, but the future will probably hold something different, you just don’t know what that is yet, you’ll have to consult widely.”
Donnelly: “Yeah, yeah. Exactly.”
Listen back in full here.