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Co-founder of Social Democrats Stephen Donnelly quits party

Published 05/09/2016

Stephen Donnelly (pictured with MEP Marian Harkin) has quit the Social Democrats
Stephen Donnelly (pictured with MEP Marian Harkin) has quit the Social Democrats

One of the founders of the Social Democrats has quit the party, claiming the partnership with his co-leaders did not work.

Stephen Donnelly, TD for Wicklow, is leaving the group which was only formed in the summer of 2015 ahead of the last election.

"It is a fact that some partnerships, in every walk of life, simply don't work no matter how hard all of the parties to that partnership try to make it succeed," he said.

In a statement, the party said: " We are disappointed that he has decided to walk away from the project, we undertook, to establish and build the party."

Mr Donnelly, a former management consultant in London and Dublin, was one of the three Social Democrats TDs returned to the Dail following the February election - along with Catherine Murphy and Roisin Shortall.

The party had a shared leadership.

Mr Donnelly said he took the decision after a prolonged period of consideration and with great sadness.

"My decision is based on the fact that for the Social Democrats to achieve its potential as a party of significant influence and scale, despite the many obstacles new parties face, one critical component is that the leadership team must function very well together as a team," he said.

"In spite of everyone's best efforts, I have concluded that our partnership did not have that .

"I further believe that this would be the case whether the leadership had continued to be shared or was vested in one person, which was not something I or anyone else had sought."

Mr Donnelly was first elected in 2011 as an independent.

"I will continue to work hard on the issues I am championing, including stopping tax avoidance by vulture funds, improving public services, resolving the mortgage crisis; responsible fiscal management, promoting high quality job creation and reducing the costs of living and doing business," he said.

The Social Democrats said they remained fully committed to a vision of a strong economy, fair society and honest politics.

"As is the case across the globe, the defence of social democratic values is not dependent on one personality or politician - but rather is a collective pursuit," the party said.

"Since the Social Democrats were first founded, in July 2015, we have worked to build the party brick-by-brick.

"This is a long term project which requires dedication, hard work, long hours and a major commitment from all involved including our elected representatives.

"The levels of dedication required for such a major undertaking can be overwhelming for some."

The Social Democrats wished Mr Donnelly the best in his future endeavours and said they looked forward to the party's future development.

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