A farmer representing Donegal South-West, he won popular local support for his campaign to legalise 'deflectors' which re-transmitted British television channels in rural areas, but which had been shut down in the wake of legal action by cable and MMDS operators.
In the 1999 local elections, he was elected as a member of Donegal County Council for Glenties. He did not contest the 2002 general election and retired from politics at the 2004 local elections.
He was later Chairman of the National Community Television Association.
- "Mr. Tom Gildea". Oireachtas Members Database. Retrieved 25 August 2013.
- "Poll predicts Gildea will lose seat". RTÉ News. 19 February 2002.
- There have been other notable single issue 'deflector' candidates who ran unsuccessfully in general elections elsewhere in the country — Dermot Kirwan representing the Waterford deflector groups ran in Waterford at the 1997 general election, while the 1992 general election saw Liam Hurley of South Coast Community TV standing in the Cork South-Central constituency.
- "Tom Gildea". ElectionsIreland.org. Retrieved 25 August 2013.