Damien Egan has had a momentous journey to become the Labour Party’s choice for the new constituency of Bristol North East
CORK-born Damien Egan (41) has been chosen as the Labour candidate for the new constituency of Bristol North East. He was brought up in Bristol where his family, consisting of himself, his mother and sister experienced homelessness twice.
Council housing offered the Egans a lifeline and he has been passionate about building social housing ever since.
Damien Egan moved to Lewisham in southeast London after graduating from St Mary’s University in Twickenham.
He was elected as a Labour Party councillor for Lewisham Central in 2010 and became the cabinet member for housing in 2014. In 2018 Egan was elected Mayor of Lewisham. The borough has a huge ethic mix, and a complex demographic
In 2022, Egan was re-elected with an increased majority and 58 per cent of the vote.
Although adjudged by many to have been an exemplary mayor, his time in Lewisham was not without controversy. His chief executive Ian Thomas departed after just seven months in the post as the council, under Egan’s direction, were bent on taking “a new direction”.
But the Local Government Chronicle (LGC) stated, while reporting on a petition signed by over 1,100 people to bring Thomas back said the pair “found it difficult to work with one another”.
The magazine Private Eye said: “Shortly after his election [as Mayor of Lewisham] he clashed with the council’s chief executive and their relationship deteriorated beyond repair.”
Damien Egan was brought up a Catholic but in 2018 converted to Judaism. He told the Jewish Chronicle in 2019: “I mentally knew I was a Catholic, as it’s on a document somewhere rather than something you’re actually practising.
“I was always, growing up, interested in faith and thinking about all faiths.”
Visits to Israel and conversations with Jewish friends sparked an interest in Judaism.
Damien Egan’s husband is Jewish.
Irish representation in parliament
The new constituency of Bristol North East is likely to be a Labour gain in the next general election. The city’s current four seats are all occupied by Labour MPs. The last Irish-born person to represent Bristol was Dublin-born Edmund Burke, widely seen as being pivotal in the development of British politics, and a champion of democracy.
Should Egan be elected in the next general election, he will be the first MP born in the Republic since Clare-born Michael O’Halloran sat for Islington North from 1969 until 1983, when he was succeeded by Jeremy Corbyn. Contemporaneously, Jonathan Aitken, born in Dublin, held the seat of Thanet South from 1974-1983. Baptised Jonathan William Patrick Aitken, Taoiseach Éamon de Valera attended his baptism in St Patrick’s Cathedral, Dublin.