Gilroy’s respectable result surprises many in Meath East

Candidate for fledgling Direct Democracy movement beats Labour on first preferences

Direct Democracy Ireland (DDI) candidate Ben Gilroy's respectable showing in the Meath East byelection has surprised many who had not followed the campaign closely.

He took more first preference votes in the byelection (1,568) than did Labour’s Eoin Holmes (1,112).

The 50-year-old Dublin-born former bodyguard who runs an electrical business from his home in Navan, where he has lived for the last 13 years, had no interest in politics until very recently.

He was approached by Raymond Whitehead, who founded the DDI movement about four years ago and launched it as a party late last year, but initially said: "I'd prefer to bust my head off the wall."


Eventually Mr Gilroy was persuaded to become the first person to run for the new political party, or "political service" as its members prefer. DDI's stated aims are to transform Ireland and reclaim "sovereignty" from Europe, and to retain all assets for the good of the State.

Mr Gilroy rejects the “anti-austerity” tag, however. “We would be against austerity measures, but it seems like a one-liner tag. If the austerity measures were cancelled in the morning, we would not be healed.”

He secured 1,568 first preference votes, putting him in fourth place after the first count. He was excluded after the second count, after having benefited from the largest amount of transfers.

“Our message on the doorsteps was simple and people liked it,” he said.

Mr Gilroy, who grew up in the Raheny area of Dublin but went to boarding school in Cork, is married to Sarah-Jane and they have four children: Ben (16), Sam (8), Isabella (4) and Bobby (9 months).

His mother was from Westmeath and his father from Leitrim. With eight sisters and three brothers, he has "50 something" nieces and nephews. "If they were all in the constituency I would've won this thing."

He describes himself as uneducated, having left school after the Inter Cert and“qualified from the university of life and the other college of hard knocks”.

Mary Minihan

Mary Minihan

Mary Minihan is Features Editor of The Irish Times