I think it’s fair to say that most of us are frustrated with the political system in Ireland. Losing our jobs, our homes and any semblance of stability or future. The past twelve years have been the hardest in living memory for many of our citizens.
As I started to meet some of the people involved in the Social Democrats I got to know people just like me, that held the same kind of values and principles that I did.
A lot has happened in the time since I decided to join the Social Democrats in 2017. I will admit that I agonised over joining a political party for some time. I have been an activist all my life and will always remain so. I have been active on national issues such as housing, poverty, inequality, disability, abortion rights and education as well as campaigning on many local issues.
"I have been active on national issues; Housing, Poverty, Inequality, Disability, Abortion Rights and Education."
However, over time I became increasingly frustrated with the political system. I think it’s fair to say most of us have. Losing our jobs, our home and any semblance of stability or future. I hold a deep anger and sense of injustice. My generation has been treated so poorly by those in power. I wanted to channel this in a productive way. I was desperate to see change.
As I got to know some of the people involved with the Social Democrats, particularly Gary Gannon, I found many people just like me. People signing up to a political movement that held the same kind of values and principles that I did.
I had been following the work of women like Catherine Murphy and Róisín Shortall. I also admire the dedication of TDs and Senators from other parties and independents, Lynn Ruane and Alice Mary Higgins for example. Pubic advocates dedicated to fighting injustice, inequality and the status quo.
Cllr. Carly Bailey, SDCC
I ran for Local Council and was so proud to be elected because I want to make sure my children and their friends will not be left behind and locked out like we have been. I believe that when people’s needs are met, communities are stronger, safer and more vibrant.”
At the time I had recently begun a degree in Law and Political Science at Trinity College. I had learned that civil society movements and single-issue campaigns are very important. They have great power in rallying the public and putting pressure on our elected representative.
However, Leinster House is where real change happens. I had simply written off any idea of real political change. I accepted the idea that they are all as bad as each other. Politics was very much a dirty word.
"I decided to Join the Social Democrats"
But I bit the bullet. I have not looked back since.
I wanted to help grow a fledgling political party. A party offering a credible left-wing alternative with evidence based policies. A party recruiting community workers and activists around the country who have integrity, equality and decency held within their DNA.
I joined a very new branch in Dublin South West and soon after attended a public meeting on health. Dr. Jim Gray was the guest speaker and spoke of his experience of working in my local hospital in Tallaght. Many of us in the area can attest to his frustration and despair.
The discussion wasn’t just an opportunity to vent anger. Solutions were discussed. Róisin Shortall talked about Sláintecare, offering a credible alternative to the health system we currently have. This meeting was enough to convince me to keep going.
I went along to the next meeting and met with more people who shared the same vision. A vision that we could and should help our community, that we should campaign for better services and resources. Since then our party has grown from strength to strength, both locally and nationally.
Six months later and after much encouragement, I was appointed a Local Area Rep. for the Social Democrats in the area. A few months after that, Dermot Looney, a Dublin City Councillor joined the party.
I have since got to know many party members across the country. I am in awe of the caring and decent human beings involved. So many are just like me, as in they have never been involved in politics before but all dream of a better, fairer, more equal Ireland.
"Many Social Democrats have never been involved in politics before but all dream of a better, fairer, more equal Ireland."
We are building a new social democratic force to reshape Ireland, for the people, by the people.
Why Join the Social Democrats?
Our party conference this week had many more new faces. This filled me with joy, but the question I ask is why? Why join the Social Democrats? I think my answer is that the Social Democrats have given us hope. For me, my husband, my family and friends and especially for my children. We all need hope.
Catherine Murphy spoke at an event late last year and said that she was not interested in the next election but rather in the next generation. These are the words we should expect to hear from our TDs. Long term thinking, doing what is right for the country and not just what is right for the party. Thinking of the next generation and not just the next election.
I ran for Vice-Chair at our National Conference a few weeks ago. I spoke of the fact that I have nothing to leave my children. I spoke of how I am deeply committed to making Ireland a better a country for generations that come after us, for our children and grandchildren. I was elected to the position of Vice Chair by my party, something that fills me with a great sense of pride. I am truly humbled that so many placed their trust in me.
"I am truly humbled that so many placed their trust in me."
We were also joined by journalist Phillip O’Connor. He gave an amazing keynote speech in which he said…
“Whether they know it or not, the Irish people are social democrats-we do for each other what the state does for its citizens elsewhere. We clothe and feed, we care for the sick and people with disabilities, we mind children and grandchildren, all invisibly-ours is a shadow social democracy.”
I believe strongly in these words.
What we do, every party member, every day demonstrates just that. We will never stop. However, the Social Democrats believe that the state must play a much greater role in preventing poverty, ensuring there is a social floor below which no one can fall. Citizens, on their own, cannot help everyone. Citizens cannot build social and affordable housing. But citizens, with the support from their state, can achieve anything.
"The Social Democrats believe that the state must play a much greater role in preventing poverty, ensuring there is a social floor below which no one can fall."
If your feel like I do, if what you have read here resonates with you, if you want to be part of a change in this country then join us. Join your local branch of the Social Democrats. If there isn’t one, we are a grassroots movement, you can start one. It only takes a few people with passion.
We need more people if we are to grow, to grow in our local communities. If we want to get more of Social Democrats elected in local and general elections then we need new members in every corner of Ireland. To effect real change, to put in place a genuine new politics, we need to grow.
"Nothing will change if we admit defeat. Nothing will change unless we change it."
Nothing will change if we admit defeat. Nothing will change unless we change it. Nothing will change if we continue to allow those in power to do nothing. It may take time, but if we start now, imagine where we could be in 10 years? Imagine where Ireland could be in 50 years? Just imagine.
Carly Bailey, Social Democrat.