Cork South West TD Holly Cairns will become the new leader of the Social Democrats on Wednesday.

Social Dems new leader ‘under no illusions’

Cork TD Holly Cairns has been confirmed as the next leader of the Social Democrats.

The Cork South West representative will officially take on her new role on Wednesday following an announcement last week that co-leaders and party founders Catherine Murphy and Róisín Shortall would be stepping down.

Deputy Cairns had the full backing of her party, with all other Social Democrat TDs ruling themselves out of running for party leadership.

Taking to Twitter to confirm the news, Deputy Cairns it was a “big decision” and that she is under “no illusions about the challenges ahead”.

“I can’t quite believe I’m typing this but on Wednesday, I will be taking on the role of leader of the Social Democrats,” she said on Twitter.

“I am hugely ambitious for the future of the @SocDems and I am determined to build on the excellent foundations laid by the incredible Catherine Murphy and Róisín Shortall. I look forward to setting out my vision for the party on Wednesday,” she added.

In a short video posted on Twitter, Social Democrat TD for Wicklow, Jennifer Whitmore, said: “I’m delighted to hear that Holly is putting herself forward for the leadership of the Social Democrats and I’m here to say that I’m putting my full support behind her. I think Holly would make an incredible leader for the party and I’m looking forward to the next chapter.”

Having won the final seat in the Bantry local election by a single vote in 2019, Ms Cairns was elected to Dáil Eireann in February 2020.

She is her party’s spokesperson on Agriculture, Food and the Marine; Rural Development; Social Justice; and Disability. She is also a member of the Oireachtas Committee on Children, Disability, Equality and Integration.

Deputy Cairns has a first-class honours in MSc in Organic Horticulture from UCC. As part of her studies, she researched the methods and importance of plant adaptation in the face of unpredictable climates.

She says her background as a farmer and environmentalist inspired her to enter politics.