Donnelly "eviscerated by online horde" after Fianna Fáil move

The Wicklow TD has apologised to "those who I have genuinely hurt"

Donnelly "eviscerated by online horde" after Fianna Fáil move

Stephen Donnelly with Michéal Martin. Image: Sam Boal /

Fianna Fáil's Stephen Donnelly has said he was 'eviscerated by an online horde' after announcing his decision to join the party.

The Wicklow TD announced the change of allegiance last week. Originally elected as an independent, he became one of the co-founders of the Social Democrats in 2015. However, he left the young party last year and became an independent again.

Although Deputy Donnelly has suggested there has been a 'generally positive reaction' to the news in his constituency, he has also faced heavy criticism over the move.

He spoke to Pat Kenny this morning about his experiences in recent days.

"I took what could be described as a deeply unpopular decision with a lot of people," Deputy Donnelly said. "To those who I have genuinely hurt - I apologise for that.

"But how many times have [TDs] heard 'you're populists, you'll never make unpopular decisions, you'll only follow the crowd'. Then as soon as you do make an unpopular decision, you are eviscerated by an online horde... It was quite unpleasant."

He explained: "Every politician gets accused of populism... If you make a deeply unpopular decision, at least with some people, and that's the reaction you get in the online, social media world... we're all human.

"I've always worked in teams. Being an independent is a lonely and place to be. Being in a party, being part of a team always made sense."

Amid speculation about the promise of a post in any future Fianna Fáil government, Deputy Donnelly - who has been appointed as his new party's Brexit spokesperson - said "there were absolutely no carrots" or incentives offered.

"I would imagine I put myself very far down the back of a very long queue of good & capable people," he added.