With recent polls showing that independents and small alliances could comprise more than a quarter of the Dublin parliament after the forthcoming general election, two new political groupings have presented themselves.
Already this year, the new right-wing Renua party formed and contested a by-election in Carlow-Kilkenny, securing almost 10% of the vote. So there was a very wary response from the political establishment to the announcement that three high-profile independent TDs are launching a new party.
On July 15th, Catherine Murphy from Kildare North, Wicklow’s Stephen Donnelly and Róisín Shortall, who represents Dublin North West, launched the ‘Social Democrats’ as a centre-left political alliance.
They said they would insist on the abolition of the hated water charges if negotiating to take part in a new government, and spoke of a ‘Nordic model’ for Ireland.
“If we are in a position to be negotiating a programme for government, our position is that water charges would immediately be abolished. Our position is that the public ownership of the utility would be absolutely guaranteed,” Mr Donnelly said at the launch of the party.
However, making their announcement at the Civic Offices in Wood Quay in Dublin, Donnelly notably failed to support the boycott of the charges, and said that he “probably would” pay them.
Catherine Murphy said the party hoped to attract “people of conviction” to contest the election under its banner. “Our intention is to deliver a social democratic vision that is very much in the Nordic tradition,” she said.
Ms Shortall said the party was “policy-based” and would be contesting the general election in every constituency.
A document distributed by the party at the launch event said its key policy areas were “strong economy, open government and social vision”. The party’s values were listed as: “progress; equality; democracy and sustainability”. There was no reference to partition or the goal of a united Ireland.
This week, a right-wing anti-immigration party faced immediate and vocal denunciations from political opponents.
‘Identity Ireland’ was formally launched as a party after handing in its papers to the Dáil on Wednesday.
It chiefly advocates strict border controls and the expulsion of immigrants from the 26 Counties. It says that multi-culturalism undermines the identity of the Irish people, and also seeks a withdrawal from the euro currency.
But the launch took place in a chaotic scene after an anti-racism group staged a protest.
The press conference in Buswells Hotel was interrupted by an anti-racism group accused the party of knowingly holding the launch on the fourth anniversary on the massacre of 77 people by racist Norwegian serial killer Anders Behring Breivik.
Farah Mokhtareizadeh from the Anti Racism Network read a statement (pictured) while a protester laid a wreath for Breivik’s victims.
Identity Ireland denied they held the event to coincide with the anniversary.