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Dublin: 14 °C Tuesday 20 August, 2019
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Peadar Tóibín hits out at larger parties: 'If you vote Fianna Fáil, you get Fine Gael'

Aontú has 53 candidates running in the local elections.

Aontú manifesto launch in Dublin today
Aontú manifesto launch in Dublin today
Image: Leah Farrell

FORMER SINN FÉIN TD Peadar Tóibín has announced that his party, Aontú, has 53 candidates running in the local elections.

Speaking in Dublin at the launch of Aontú’s local election manifesto today, Tóibín said unlike other political machines with massive funding behind them, his new party is operating on “fresh air” and the good will of volunteers.

The wheels for one of Ireland’s newest political parties were set in motion last year when Tóibín was suspended from Sinn Féin for six months because he voted against the abortion legislation in the Dáil. He later decided to leave the party. 

After being with the party for 21 years, he said he did so “with a heavy heart” but no sooner had he sent his resignation letter to Mary Lou McDonald, he was travelling around the country to find people with similar views to his own.

The party named, Aontú, has had some success so far, with Tóibín telling the audience at the manifesto launch that the part took 7% of the vote in constituencies in the Northern Ireland local elections where it stood a candidate.

Female candidates

He added that 30% of his 53 candidates running in the south are women.

Setting out his party’s stall, he also used the opportunity to once again, take a pop at Fianna Fáil. 

The day he resigned, he hit out against Micheáł Martin and those at the helm of Fianna Fáil for giving the “two fingers” to their grassroot supporters.

He said he had received a lot of phone calls from members of Fianna Fáil who are “unhappy” with the party’s direction in terms of the abortion issue. He repeated this claim today, stating the leadership of both Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael, particularly on issues such of abortion, are fuelling Aontú’s “phenomenal growth”.

Tóibín said both parties are one of the same, stating: 

“If you vote Fianna Fáil, you get Fine Gael, it’s as clear as that.”

As it was in the past, Ireland is still “uniformed and orthodox”, he said, adding that people are fed up of debate being stifled. 

“There is a space between what people think and what they’re willing to say in the public space,” he said.

Aontú’s manifesto deals with issues such as health, housing, Irish unity and abortion. 

He said his party is the rural development party, with the manifesto stating that it is “100% pro-life”. The document adds that it will fight to have the abortion legislation scrapped. 

However, Tóibín has been eager to point out that Aontú is not a one issue party.

Speaking about the environment, he said the Irish government’s environmental policy would “make Donald Trump blush”.

Using the bus lanes

He floated an idea of increasing the uptake in electric cars by offering free tolls, free parking and the use of bus lanes for a period of two years in a bid to get people to switch from a fuel-based vehicle. 

The party’s stance on immigration has hit the headlines in the recent past.

Tóibín said he believed that immigration is a “normal part of a functioning society”. He said he didn’t believe there should be orthodoxy in debate, stating that “people are entitled to discuss the issue of immigration as long as it’s reasonable and respectful”.

“We believe that people coming from war-torn areas, coming from famine or violence are refugees that we, in accordance with international law have a human obligation to offer these individuals safety and sanctuary in this country,” he said.

“We also know that many people come to this country for economic reasons,” he said, stating that they give “excellent input into this country”.

We thank people who have come to our country and invested time in building our society and a lot of our sectors would not function properly without the work of people who have migrated to our country.
Yes, there are serious difficulties with regard to resources in housing, healthcare and education. None of those difficulties are the fault of migrants in any way. They are fully the failure of the government.

On the issue of a possible border poll, he accused his former party Sinn Féin of being “laggards in pushing Irish unity”.

He said Aontú is “practical” and in favour of “incremental steps” towards its goal. 

If Aontú was in power in the morning, what would they do with the National Broadband Plan? Push the button on the contract or scrap the deal? 

“The government’s plan is dead in the water,” said Tóibín, adding that it should be broken into smaller regions of deliverability.

He said there should be no way holiday homes should be connected at the cost of thousands, when some businesses in rural Ireland are not hooked up to Wifi. 

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