Declan Meehan makes history as Donegal’s first out gay councillor

In another victory for LGBTQ+ candidates, Pádraig Rice was elected to Cork City South Central LEA.

Declan Meehan photographed from the chest up, smiling and standing to the right of three balloons. There is one rainbow balloon and two colourful good luck balloons.
Image: Declan Meehan - Independent via Facebook

Declan Meehan has made history as the first out gay man to be elected as a public representative in Donegal. The news was confirmed on Sunday, June 9, as the results of the local and European elections continue to unfold across the country.

Meehan was the first councillor to get one of the three available seats in the Milford LEA district. An independent councillor, he topped the poll with 2,074 votes, after the Irish public had their say on Friday, June 7.

He celebrated the victory alongside family, friends and supporters in Aura Leisure Centre, kissing his husband Dr Pádraig McGuinness when the result was announced. The pair wed in 2019 after years of campaigning across the island of Ireland for Marriage Equality.

Speaking about the significance of his election, Declan Meehan said: “I would like to extend my deepest gratitude to everyone who came out and voted, to those who worked tirelessly on my campaign and to all those who came before, paving the way for me to stand here today as a proud gay man and a proud member of our community.” 

He added: “I am proud to be elected today to represent the interests of all people in our local area. At a time when we are seeing increasing divisions nationally, Friday’s vote is a ringing endorsement of what we in Donegal all know; our community is welcoming and progressive – we are unified and not divided.”


Declan Meehan’s campaign championed community development, social inclusion and rural regeneration. The manager of Milford & District Resource Centre, he has secured €2 million in funding for local initiatives over the last five years and successfully led integration projects benefiting refugees who have arrived in North Donegal in recent times.

In another victory for LGBTQ+ politicians, Pádraig Rice was elected to Cork City South Central LEA. In a tweet published after the fact, the Social Democrats councillor expressed he was “deeply honoured”, adding: “Thank you to everyone who put their trust in me. I won’t let you down.”


Elsewhere, Emma Murphy, who previously made history as the first LGBTQ+ mayor of South Dublin, was also elected to her local council.

Across the country, Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil are receiving the most support, as the two battle it out to become the largest party. The Greens, Social Democrats and Independents have all also performed well, with 20, 32 and 162 seats so far respectively.

Despite earning more seats this year than in 2019 (91 compared to 81), Sinn Féin leader Mary Lou McDonald has expressed her disappointment at the results, saying the party would need to “regroup” and “reflect”. 

While it was predicted that far-right politicians and groups would see a surge in support at this year’s local elections, it appears that this has not been the case. So far, just two Independent candidates, Malachy Steenson of Dublin North Inner City and Gavin Pepper of Ballymun-Finglas, North Dublin, have been successful with their campaigns.

Regarding the European elections, polling stations across the continent closed at 10pm on Sunday, June 9. So far in Ireland, Fianna Fáil’s Barry Andrews and Fine Gael’s Regina Doherty have won seats, but it could be days until all of the results are delivered.

Exit poll data from across the EU suggest that Ursula von der Leyen’s European People’s Party is set to retain its majority, while the Socialists and Democrats alliance is projected to be the second largest grouping. On the other hand, Green parties are expected to record a significant loss, and government parties similarly seem to be performing poorly, already suffering defeats in Spain and Slovakia. Meanwhile, the far-right has done well in countries like Germany, Austria, Italy and France, as was predicted.

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