Stiofán Mac Suibhne

Stiofán Mac Suibhne
Sauli Niinistö Senate of Poland 2015 (cropped).JPG
Taoiseach of Caldia
Assumed office
27 February 2019
MonarchKenneth IV
DeputySéamus Ó Faoláin
Preceded byHumphrey Dumfries
Leader of His Majesty's Most Loyal Opposition
In office
19 June 2017 – 27 February 2019
Preceded byDarragh Ballíck
Succeeded byPádraig Mac Piarais
Leader of the Social Democrats
Assumed office
31 July 2017
DeputyGearóid MacMaster
Preceded byDarragh Ballíck
Deputy Leader of the Social Democrats
In office
28 June 2012 – 31 July 2017
LeaderDarragh Ballíck
Preceded byDeirbhile Ní Ríain
Succeeded byGearóid MacMaster
List Teachta Comhthionól
Assumed office
12 June 2017
Teachta Comhthionól for Scariff North
In office
12 June 2007 – 12 June 2017
Personal details
Born
Stiofán Aodghan Mac Suibhne

(1959-06-11) 11 June 1959 (age 61)
Scariff, County Clane Caldia
Political partySocial Democratic Party
Spouse(s)Pádraigín Níc Dhòmhnaill
Children2
Alma materShanbally Technical Institute

Stiofán Aodghan Mac Suibhne (born 11 June 1959) is a Caldish Social Democratic politician who has served as Taoiseach since February 2019. He has led the Social Democratic Party since July 2017 and has been a Teachta Comhthionól (TC) since 2007, first representing the Scariff North constituency and later serving as a List TC.

He became deputy leader of the Social Democrats in June 2012. After the 2017 general election, he was chosen by the party's central committee to serve as leader and he lead the party in opposition. While in opposition, Mac Suibhne mended the damaged relationships between the Social Democrats and the trade unions. He was vocal critic of Frank Casarnach and called on him to resign in the wake of the big-rigging scandal. Mac Suibhne led the party into the 2019 snap election where the party gained 101 seats and received 48% of all votes cast. Mac Suibhne is the first Social Democratic Taoiseach since 2002 and the first to win an election since 1997.

An ironworker by trade, Mac Suibhne is the former president of the Association of Ironworkers and Miners, a powerful Caldish trade union. He has close ties to the Caldish labour movement.

Early life

Mac Suibhne was born on 11 June 1959 in Scariff, County Clane. His father Aodghan Mac Suibhne (1934 - 2006) was an iron miner that worked in the iron mines on the north Caldish coast and his mother Treasa Ní Bhraonáin (born 1938) was an in-home caregiver. He attended tertiary school in Scariff before attending Shanbally Technical Institute for a 48-week ironworking and welding course.

Afterwards, he started an apprenticeship as an ironworker in Shanbally. Mac Suibhne frequently worked in Spálgleann on new constructions that began in the 1980s. Soon after starting work, he became a union representative for his group. He held a succession of different positions within the union, the Association of Ironworkers and Miners. Eventually, he worked in contract negotiations and international affairs before being appointed as a vice-president in 1994. Throughout the union's tense relationship with Taoiseach Niamh Nic Uilliam, Mac Suibhne lobbied for the group to continue supporting the Social Democratic Party despite the unpopularity of Nic Uilliam's Third Way policies. He became the union's president in 1999, a post he held until 2007 when he was recruited to run in his native Scariff North constituency.

Political career

Mac Suibhne has been a member of the Social Democrats since the age of 14. Both his father and mother were members of the party and he was active in the party's youth-wing, the DSO. He was appointed to the party's central committee in 1999 after becoming president of his union.

He was recruited by the party to stand in the Scariff North constituency in the 2007 general election. He was elected and soon took on a prominent role in the party, as a former member of its central committee and leader of one of the strongest unions. Mac Suibhne was a member of the soft left faction of the party and advocated for a continued shift away from the Third Way position the party took up until 2002.

After the party only gained five seats in the 2012 general election, party leader Mícheál Ó Domhnaill resigned and Darragh Ballíck was selected as party leader by the central committee. Like Mac Suibhne, Ballíck was also a part of the soft left but lacked connections to the trade unions. Ballíck's supporters argued his middle class background would appeal to voters who had supported Alexis Walker in the 2007 and 2012 elections. Mac Suibhne was selected as deputy to maintain support of the working class and the unions.

During the 2017 general election, Ballíck's electoral alliance with the Greens annoyed many of the unions who were alarmed by the shift in the PSD's environmental policies. A series of gaffes during the campaign continued to isolate Ballíck from the unions. While Mac Suibhne was able to secure the continued support of many disgruntled unions, the Seaworker's Association and the Shipbuilder's Federation endorsed the Labour Party. In a joint statement, the unions accused Ballíck of isolating the working class in favor of environmentalist policies to appeal to urban liberals. The party lost 12 seats and Ballíck resigned a party leader and opposition leader. Mac Suibhne took over as acting opposition leader and was named as Ballíck's successor in July 2017.

Opposition leader

After becoming leader of the Social Democrats, Mac Suibhne focused on rebuilding relationships with the unions and the party's traditional base. He nominated Gearóid MacMaster, his successor as head of the Association of Ironworkers and Miners, as his deputy. He elevated left-wing and soft left voices within his Shadow Cabinet and promoted increased state-spending, the reintroduction of the flat tax, a universal basic income program using state oil dividends, and increased spending on social services and education. Mac Suibhne also argued in favor of action to combat climate change, but distanced the PSD from the Greens and their opposition to the Caldish petroleum industry.

In 2017, he negotiated an agreement with Taoiseach Jimmy O'Reilly to increase spending on social services in exchange for the PSD's support for the Immigration Reform Act after rebels from O'Reilly's party threatened to stop reform. O'Reilly's successor, Frank Casarnach later went back on the deal and proposed cuts to social services. Mac Suibhne accused Casarnach of needlessly introducing austerity and promised to reverse Casarnach's economic policies.

Following the Pietramontecorvino Incident in April 2018, he called on O'Reilly to step down as Taoiseach. Casarnach replaced O'Reilly and faced his own scandal in December 2018. The Taoiseach was accused of engaging in bid-rigging while he was Minister of Petroleum to benefit his wife's employer. Mac Suibhne joined protests against Casarnach and demanded he resign and trigger a snap election. After the taoiseach's coalition partners abandoned him, he delayed calling a snap election. Mac Suibhne worked with the other opposition parties to submit a motion of no confidence in Casarnach's government to trigger a snap election. Casarnach, who was protected from prosecution by the immunity awarded to his office, was sacked by the king in January and a snap election was called for 18 February 2019. During the campaign, Mac Suibhne promoted his party's progressive platform and argued that Liberty had become corrupt after almost 17 years in power.

Taoiseach

In the 2019 general election, the Social Democrats increased their seat count by 101 to win 218 seats. The PSD received 48.8% of all votes cast, the highest percentage of the vote-share a party had received in over two decades. Mac Suibhne was confirmed by the Comhthionól Náisiúnta as Taoiseach on 27 February 2019. His cabinet was approved on the same day. A number of ministers hold dual portfolios in his government.

The party passed its first budget since 2001 in June 2019. In the budget, he introduced a second bracket to the tax code and placed a 25% income tax on those who earn more than €65,000 annually. The budget also introduced €1.5 billion in new spending on social services, education, and healthcare. Mac Suibhne had also promised to increase spending and state investment in the 2020 budget.

In September 2019, Mac Suibhne's government introduced its climate action plan which would implement increased spending on transportation, infrastructure, and renewable energy. It would also see the renationalization of passenger rail services. The government also plans on building coastal seawalls to counter rising sea levels, the result of melting icecaps.

His government has worked closely with Caldia's partners in the Northern Forum and Euclean Community. Amid the 2019 Estmere-Zorasan Crisis, Mac Suibhne's government expressed its concerns that international maritime law was being ignored by world powers. He met with leaders of smaller EC member-states who were alarmed by the hawkish position adopted by the Estmerish government. National leaders of the group meet regularly to discuss EC policy and attempt to counter the influence of the larger states on the Euclean Council. As the Tsabaran Crisis gradually worsened throughout the year, Mac Suibhne warned that Tsabara's democratic institutions were being eroded and called for the EC and the Community of Nations to work to ensure the survival of these institutions. His government attempted to mediate talks between the rival factions in Tsabara, but efforts failed in January 2020.

Attempts to proceed with the construction of the Tuaisceart-Süd 2.0 pipeline were made difficult by opposition from some members of the Northern Forum. In May 2020, the Caldish and Weranic governments proceeded with the project bilaterally. Their decision resulted in protests throughout Euclea by environmental activists. Despite protests, Mac Suibhne's government passed legislation required to construct the pipeline.

Personal life

Mac Suibhne married Pádraigín Níc Dhòmhnaill in 1982. Together they have two children, Meadhbh, a nurse, and Seán, who is studying at Saint Adomnán's University to become a labor lawyer. They originally lived in Shanbally and Spálgleann before Mac Suibhne moved back to Scariff to stand as a candidate in the 2007 election.

He is a supporter of Scariff F.C. and frequently attends games in both the men's and women's league. An avid roller skater, Mac Suibhne also enjoys playing hockey.

Mac Suibhne is popular on social media and maintains a large following. He has a Warminster terrier called Bodach who is frequently reported on in the Caldish media and is known as a scene-stealer.