Former Sinn Féin TD Peadar Tóibín’s new, yet-to-be-named pro-life, republican political party, is eyeing Donegal as one of its “target” constituencies as it tries to make a breakthrough in May’s local elections.
How his new party fares there will be watched closely as it was the only constituency to have a no majority in the referendum on the Eighth Amendment last May.
Mr Tóibín addressed a crowd of over 250 people at a public meeting in Letterkenny. “The Donegal constituency is the most aligned with our politics.
“I believe that we will win local (election) seats in Donegal and the establishment parties will wake up and listen to what we say.”
The party will be hoping to attract considerable support from those who feel that their voice is not being heard, notably the 34% of people nationally who voted against repealing the Eighth Amendment.
“We need to get up off our seats and mobilise,” he said, adding that the voice of the 723,632 who voted no in the referendum must be heard in Leinster House.
“This is the human rights debate of our generation,” he said, though he later added yes voters were attending his party meetings.
Mr Tóibín called on people to get involved in a “people’s movement” to challenge the “groupthink in the Dáil.”
He confirmed that Donegal will be one of the party’s “target constituencies” whenever the next general election is held.
Firstly, though, he wants to see branches (cumainn) set up in the county in the coming weeks and for candidates to be selected to contest the local elections.
“We have to go from 0 to 60 fast,” he said. “Membership is key. We need a mass movement. We will try and get people into cumainn and have meetings in the next 10 days.”
He confirmed that on Tuesday morning, documentation had been submitted as part of the process to establish the political party. It is expected that a name will be decided upon in the coming weeks. “We are functioning like a political party,” he said.
The party will be organised on an All-Ireland basis and will be pro-life, seek economic justice, and proper spatial (balanced regional) development, as well as being euro-critical.
Housing, healthcare, neutrality, Irish language, and taxation changes are among the other key areas likely to dominate future policy.
During his presentation, he stressed the need for “activism”. “We have got to focus on what we can achieve together... I need you to climb this mountain.”
Last weekend, an SDLP councillor in Tyrone, Rosemarie Shields, became the first elected representative in the north to join the party. Mr Tóibín is due to address another public meeting in Cork tomorrow.
Last November, he announced his resignation from Sinn Féin, saying restrictions imposed by the party over his views on abortion had prevented him from fully representing his constituents.