Communicating with Students’ Union presidents and young people is the way to build a hard policy for education, according to Social Democrat TD for Wicklow/East Carlow, Stephen Donnelly.
Donnelly was speaking in Trinity College Dublin at an information night for third level students on the Social Democrats youth branch. He said that over the coming weeks he will meet with SUs across the country.
Also speaking was the party’s Youth Development Coordinator, Joe O’Connor and two other candidates of the party, Cian O’Callaghan and Glenna Lynch. O’ Connor said that he was surprised by the response from students to the newly-established party. According to him, five universities in the country set up Social Democrat societies, with another two in the process of being formed.
O’ Connor said that their Galway candidate is actively helping young people to register to vote, as well as informing them on what support is out there. “It’s a very small practical measure where hopefully we can help elevate some of the burden that’s out there”, he said.
Candidate for Dublin Bay South, Lynch spoke about the ambitions of the party in the current political system, “we will build a national movement, a party of its time, not one that we inherited,” she said.
The discussion of the meeting was heavily dominated by the recent Marriage Equality referendum where many young people got involved in politics for the first time, because of this, the party says they are not creating an individual youth group for young people to get involved in but integrating young people into the running of the main party, just as they would for mental health or rural issues.
The party made their position clear on issues such as taxation and public service funding. Donnelly referenced the Nordic model where they have adopted a socialist political system and always rank highly in global surveys on education, well-being and happiness. He said that Ireland has the ability to change the faults in the system immediately but what it needs is a party with the political will to do so.
The Social Democrat Party has developed a budget document as well as manifesto of policies that is expected to be released in the coming weeks. The party was set up in July of this year and is jointly led by the three founders, Stephen Donnelly, Catherine Murphy and Roisin Shorthall.