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Peadar Tóibín: Aontú would welcome migrants and offer safe sanctuary

Sinead O Moore and Peader Tóibín at the Aontú local election launch. Picture: Leah Farrell/RollingNews.ie

Newly formed party Aontú said it would welcome migrants fleeing war-torn countries or economic hardship here and accused the Fine Gael-led government of hollowing out rural Ireland.

While launching an uncosted manifesto for its 53 local candidates running nationwide, leader Peadar Tóibín insisted his party was the only one trying to break free of “group thinking”.

Outlining a range of housing, farming, environment and health policies, Mr Tóibín said Aontú was a pro-life party that wanted to reverse the recent liberalisation of Ireland's abortion laws.

He accused Fianna Fáil of letting Fine Gael away with its “waste” and of having “no red lines anymore” by facilitating the Government under the Confidence and Supply deal.

The Government was also “emptying out the west of Ireland” and rural areas with its policies and this was evident with demographic changes in different regions, the party leader claimed.

Mr Tóibín argued that, under the new abortion laws, the number of terminations in Ireland was expected to “triple” this year to over 11,000.

Asked about the party's stance on migration, Mr Tóibín said Aontú welcomed immigrants from war-torn regions or areas affected by famine as well as economic migrants.

It was important to offer these people “safe sanctuary,” he told a press conference.

But he also said people had the right to raise concerns and discuss immigration.

Mr Tóibín said his party was the only one without state financing and that the number of female council candidates would be above the new 30% threshold required for the local elections.

Meanwhile, Fianna Fáil launched its Dublin election manifesto calling for 24-hour buses, cuts of up to €300 annually in property taxes for apartment owners and a new transport police for the capital.

The part's Dublin spokesman TD John Lahart insisted it was Fianna Fáil who “built this city” but that under Fine Gael promised infrastructure had stalled while the capital was now in gridlock.

Seanad leader Catherine Ardagh said housing was by far the biggest issue coming up on doorsteps.

Fianna Fáil claim that if its candidates are elected, they will negotiate the building of 16,000 affordable homes across Dublin councils.

Elsewhere, People Before Profit launched its local election initiatives, saying the housing and homelessness crisis was very acute.

Party proposals include free Wi-Fi available in Dublin city centre; drinking fountains to end the dependence on plastic bottles and street furniture so people are encouraged to utilise public spaces.

TD Richard Boyd Barrett's party also proposes building more public housing on public land, ending rising rents and the compulsory purchase of vacant properties for public use.

“We could make a start on this by building public housing on public land, by providing real rent caps and bringing rents back to affordable levels so that we could make Dublin and affordable area to live in,” said PBP TD Mr Barrett.

The party will also be involved in leading the 'Raise the Roof Rally' for housing in Dublin city centre at the weekend.

The rally will call for major investment in public housing provision, action on rent certainty and security of tenure plus the creation of a legal right to housing.

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