Gay Social Democrats councillor Owen Hanley resigns following “very serious” allegations

In addition to stepping down from his post on the Galway City Council, the 26-year-old also terminated his party membership.

Headshot of former Social Democrats member Owen Hanley.
Image: Facebook: Cllr Owen Hanley

Openly gay Social Democrats representative Owen Hanley has resigned after a young man and former party member made allegations against him in a Twitter video posted on New Year’s Day.

The councillor announced he was stepping down from his role in a Facebook post on January 3, saying “These are very serious matters and will obviously take a considerable length of time to be investigated fully by the appropriate authorities.”

Hanley continued: “In these circumstances I believe that the correct thing for me to do is to resign my members of Galway City Council.”

He concluded the post by saying he did not propose making any further comment in relation to the matter, and has not since responded to any press requests.

Following the 26-year-old’s resignation from Galway City Council, the Social Democrats issued a statement of its own on January 4, describing Hanley’s decision and the investigation as “appropriate”.

“When the Party first learned of allegations, the whip was removed from Mr Hanley and he has now resigned his membership of the Social Democrats,” it said, adding that the relevant authorities, reportedly An Garda Síochána and Tusla, were notified immediately in order to investigate the claims.

“The Party takes allegations of this nature extremely seriously and has at all times strictly adhered to our statutory obligations,” the statement finished.

While Social Democrats did not confirm when it was made aware of the claims, The Sun understands that the allegations first emerged against Hanley last year. According to, while Gardaí are aware of the allegations, no formal complaint has been made by anyone involved at this point.

In 2019, Owen Hanley made history as Galway’s first openly queer councillor, and the first Social Democrats representative appointed. Representing Galway City East, he was also the city council’s youngest-ever member, elected on his first attempt at 23 years old.

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