Donnelly refuses to say whether he will join political party

Persistent rumours that Independent Wicklow TD has been approached by Fianna Fáil

Independent Wicklow TD Stephen Donnelly has refused to say if he will join a political party before the next general election and whether approaches have already been made to him.

Independent Wicklow TD Stephen Donnelly has refused to say if he will join a political party before the next general election and whether approaches have already been made to him.

Wed, Jul 30, 2014, 18:33

Independent Wicklow TD Stephen Donnelly has refused to say if he will join a political party before the next general election and whether approaches have already been made to him.

“Am I looking at the various options which may or may not be available to me? Of course, I am,’’ he said. However, he did not rule out running again as an Independent, saying he had enjoyed the freedom of thought and speech it had given him.

There have been persistent rumours that Mr Donnelly has been approached by Fianna Fáil to run for the party in the Wicklow five-seater next time. The constituency, once a party stronghold, has no Fianna Fáil TD.

Podcast: Stephen Donnelly

Asked by Hugh Linehan, presenter of the Inside Politics podcast on irishtimes.com if he would join a party, he said he had discovered that “navel gazing out loud’’ about such matters was unhelpful and deeply frustrating for interested people and those who had voted for him.

Mr Donnelly stood as an Independent in the last general election, having decided to do so on the day the IMF came to Ireland in 2010. Educated in St David’s secondary school in Greystones Co Wicklow, UCD and Harvard Kennedy School of Government, he previously worked as a management consultant in London and Dublin.

He described himself as “a socially liberal democrat….a social democrat of the Nordic model’’. He believed, he said, in great public services and that government should run health, education, policing and prisons, with a role in some areas for the private sector.

He said the biggest failure of all, in advance of the IMF entry, was the failure of Dáil Eireann. He added that when the Fine Gael-Labour Government lambasted Fianna Fail for causing the economic crash, the response should be that all parties were to blame. When the Fianna Fáil-led government promised cake, Fine Gael and Labour had said they would provide even more.

Mr Donnelly said that while those currently in Government were against the devolution of power, he believed there were people in all parties who supported it. There were also people in all parties who wanted to modernise politics. “Our political system is back in the 1930s,’’ he added.

He said people like doctors, nurses, teachers and gardai were not empowered to make changes locally because the Dáil set the rules in an old school way.