Why I Am Staying



From top: The Social Democrats canvassing on Grafton Street, Dublin 2 during the General Election 2016 campaign last February; Gary Gannon.

Losing a founder member is a blow, but the Social Democrat ranks are brimming with people of exceptional calibre who remain committed to the movement.

Gary Gannon writes:

I celebrated an anniversary this week. On September 4 it was exactly one year to the day that I was launched as a candidate for the Social Democrats. The Party had itself only recently been announced at the end of that July and I was among our first wave of new candidates.

It was an unfortunate coincidence that this anniversary coincided with the departure from the Social Democrats of one of our founding members.

I had considered not mentioning Stephen’s decision to leave the party this week but had I of done so; I would have waived the opportunity to thank Stephen for helping to build this political party where I now feel so at home.

If a week is a long time in politics, then I assure you that a year can feel almost like an eternity when one finally stops to reflect on all that has occurred in those intervening 365 days.

In joining the Social Democrats I never sought a revolution. It was the Marriage Equality referendum which demonstrated to me how enjoyable politics could be if I simply relinquished my anger at what I considered to be an unequal State and instead spoke only of the type of Ireland which I wished to be part of.

I found it impossible to return to being an Independent after May 2015.

It was the first time that I truly felt part of a political collective. It is a testament to the importance of those three months in my political formation that the Dublin Central branch of the Social Democrats is populated heavily by people who first encountered one another while knocking on Inner City doors in the name of ‘Yes Equality’.

It was indeed anger, however that sought me to enter politics and seek election to the City Council in 2014.

As the son of an Inner City street trader my earliest interactions with the State were invariably of the negative persuasion. Memories of my school holidays include being regularly chased alongside my mother and her pram full of fruit from Henry Street to Capel Street by an old Garda who the traders affectionately named, ‘Boots’.

Adulthood has ascribed a nostalgic tint to those childhood memories. However, I was also working and volunteering in the community development sector throughout the period of austerity and I watched closely as the people who never benefited in any meaningful way from the Celtic Tiger were disproportionately targeted under the banner of austerity.

My entry into politics was a form of protest but I very quickly learned that this was a futile exercise. The system does not change simply through hatred of it alone. Progress requires engagement.

There are only two types of politicians who really matter: those who can say ‘I wish to continue on the good work of’ and those who can object by asserting ‘here’s what I would do differently’.

In the one year since our launch, the Social Democrats have set the standard for offering an alternative vision for how our country could operate.

When we took the decision, pre-election, to state categorically that we would not erode the tax base by cutting the Universal Social Charge, we showed that the Irish people were no longer willing to be bought off with the allure of individual offerings.

The departure of one of our founding members will of course come as a blow to us but although things may seem a little different, our vision remains the same.

The vision for a strong economy that will provide quality public services to its citizens remains as necessary today as it was one year ago.

For Social Democrats who operate outside of Leinster House, we now have the opportunity to step forward and progress our movement into every city, town and village.

We already have some exceptional members who will make competent legislators in this country.

Niall O’Tuathail is our candidate in Galway West. He recently told me that in the next election that he was going to be explicit about his desire to be a Minister for Health in this country.

He is an incredible guy with a young family who could be successful in any walk of life, but has chosen politics because he believes simply in the idea of civic contribution.

Our ranks are brimming with people of exceptional calibre who remain committed to this movement. Glenna Lynch is one of the most impressive people I have ever met. She is a successful business owner and a person who has already made an enormous impact outside of electoral politics.

Cian O’Callaghan has been a champion of progressive politics for as many years as I can remember. Jennifer Whitmore is an extremely well respected councillor from Greystones who has already contributed significantly to the development of the Social Democrats since our very inception.

The reality is that the Social Democrats in a strong position. One year on from joining the party I am emboldened by the strength of our collective organisation.

Building a political Party that will enter government on its own terms was always going to be a process that took longer than a single year but that remains an aspiration, one that is within our grasp.

As long as we are persistent in our pursuit of social democratic values, we will continue to grow.

I have loved every minute of these past twelve months and look forward with renewed vigour to this forthcoming year

Gary Gannon is a Social Democrats Councillor on Dublin City Counicil for Dublin’s North Inner City. His column appears here every Friday before lunch. Follow Gary on Twitter: @1garygannon

Previously: Dan Boyle on Thursday

Anne Marie McNally on Wednesday


56 thoughts on “Why I Am Staying

  1. Bertie Blenkinsop

    Making an announcement that you’re staying.

    Kinda like walking into your boss and telling them you’re not handing in your notice.

    1. cluster

      Maybe you work in a small firm & one of the key figures (arguably the key figure) has announced they are leaving.

      In that context, it’d make sense

  2. Observer

    The reality is that the Social Democrats in a strong position.

    The Social Democrats went into the General Election with three TDs and one Senator. Came out of it with three TDs and no Senators. Since then, they have managed to lose one of their senators.

    Compared to Renua they are in a strong position. But compared to every political party represented in Dáil Éireann they are not.

    1. Rob_G

      But sure, two TDs and a few articles on Broadsheet is better than 3 TDs, according to some of the commentariat here.

  3. Rainy Day

    wtf is this? . A message to say he is not leaving? Is every member of the SD’s going to have to put up a message on Broadsheet indicating whether they are going to leave or not?
    I am a supporter of the party but this is self indulgent nonsense.

    1. noc

      No, it’s just politics. Losing Stephen Donnelly was a big blow to them. However, for better or worse, they’re currently in the news and in the public eye. They are absolutely right, as a fledgling party, to take the opportunity to remind people of who else is in the party and what they stand for.

    2. MoyestWithExcitement

      “wtf is this? . A message to say he is not leaving?”

      No, it’s a public statement of confidence in his party from a regular contributor to the website. He wants to tell *the public* that the party is still strong despite losing one of their leaders and will continue working towards their vision. It is not an open letter to his boss as part of some overly elaborate roll call. Jesus, like.

  4. Tony

    Its amazing how quickly they reached peak irrelevance. the only reason they are in the news is that people are leaving and they have two blogs on BS… Big time… The George Lee of political parties.

  5. Joe cool

    So bye bye Halligan hello Donnelly. Turns out he likes the sweet taste of delicious gravy after all. Choo choo….

    1. Brother Barnabas

      fortunately for you, then, you missed the randomly-placed semi-colon that came right after it

  6. Cian

    I watched closely as the people who never benefited in any meaningful way from the Celtic Tiger were disproportionately targeted under the banner of austerity.
    Can anyone help me understand this. What people were “disproportionately targeted under the banner of austerity” who “never benefited in any meaningful way from the Celtic Tiger”?

  7. Coppélia

    Is this a love letter to Stephen?
    *goes all Veruca Salt and stamps foot*.
    But it is our anniversary. I am not going ANYWHERE. How could you do this to me…Stephen… Stephen …. I am leaving. What. Where. ..just let me go. Don’t do this to me …Stephen …..Stephen… *coughs* workshy. I know , I know . I just can’t do *redacted* anymore. It is Friday. Time to spill my guts to Bodger. Just let me go….STEEEPPPPPPENS

    The End.

          1. Neilo

            It’s a real curate’s (golden) egg, for sure. For me, most UK comedy podcasts run out of steam very quickly.

          2. bertie blenkinsop

            I still enjoy the one the cool kids call RHLSTP – the recent Graham Linehan episode was very good.

          3. Andyourpointiswhatexactly?

            I used to LOVE Richard Herring and whatsisname’s tv show. This Morning with Richard not Judy.

        1. Andyourpointiswhatexactly?

          It is. He needs cranky Cornballs to whip him up to true hilarity, I think.
          Even his jingles aren’t as good.
          Nothing has made me giggle as much as their podcasts.

  8. bisted

    …seems to be a split with the Broadsheet bloggers (aka the Soc Dem Massive)…Anne Marie thinks Stevo was a lazy bollox and Gary thinks he was a great lad…I can suggest a way to heal this rift…at least on Broadsheet…

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