Holly Cairns TD

Social Democrats leader Holly Cairns has paid tribute to former co-leaders Catherine Murphy and Róisín Shortall as they announce they will not contest the forthcoming general election.

“Catherine and Róisín are trailblazers in Irish politics and have accomplished an incredible amount in careers that spanned decades of committed political work and dedicated public service.

“Róisín is that State’s longest serving female TD, having first been elected to the Dáil in 1992. Throughout all of that time, Róisín has worked tirelessly to promote a more equal society and the provision of high quality public services. She is perhaps best known for her work to reform the health service, having chaired the Oireachtas Committee that devised the Sláintecare plan.

“Catherine was first elected as a councillor in 1988 and was first elected to the Dáil in 2005. In that year’s by-election in Kildare North, one of the dominant issues was affordable housing – a key responsibility of the State that Catherine has consistently advocated for. Transparency and accountability in public life is also an issue that is indelibly associated with Catherine and her years of political activism.

“However, their most enduring legacy will be establishing the Social Democrats in 2015. They founded the party in the belief that the creation of a better Ireland required a strong social democratic party, with an unwavering commitment to core principles of equality, sustainability and accountability. Having built the party from nothing, it now has six TDs and 35 councillors and is a hugely positive force in Irish politics.

“On a personal basis, I can say that I would not be in politics were it not for Catherine and Róisín’s decision to set up the Social Democrats. Their commitment to public service, belief in the possibility of a fairer society and dedication to strictly adhering to social democratic principles were, and are, an inspiration to me and many others.

“Catherine and Róisín are stepping back from frontline politics, but they leave behind a party with strong roots, huge promise and great potential. Having nearly doubled our number of councillors in the recent local elections, I am determined to continue to build on that success and grow our number of TDs in the forthcoming general election.

“I would also like to take this opportunity to pay tribute to Catherine and Róisín’s families, who sacrificed time with them so they could pursue their important political work. I hope that they now have more time to spend together – even though I know Catherine and Róisín will remain involved, and working with the party, albeit in less demanding roles.

“I am unashamedly ambitious about the future of this country, and the role the Social Democrats will play in building it. I know, like my predecessors, that a better Ireland is possible, and I remain hugely grateful to Catherine and Róisín for all they have done to help us achieve it.”

July 2, 2024

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