Aontú open to joining government with Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael

Aontú Leader and former Sinn Féin TD, Peadar Tóibín said the country is facing a "once in a hundred years" crisis.
Aontú open to joining government with Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael
Mr Tóibín said although it would be difficult for him to sit down with Fine Gael, the country is facing a "once in a hundred years" crisis. Picture: Rollingnews.ie

Aontú Leader and former Sinn Féin TD, Peadar Tóibín says his party is open to joining government with Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael.

Mr Tóibín, who resigned from Mary Lou McDonald's party in 2018 due to his stance on abortion, said although it would be difficult for him to sit down with Fine Gael, the country is facing a "once in a hundred years" crisis.

"Everyone has a responsibility to see can they help fix the economic and health crisis that's washing over Ireland," he said.

“This is obviously not a blank cheque, it can’t be business as usual.

"We need to really press the reset button as a country and ensure that when we emerge from this crisis, we are really all in this together.

"I am open to listening to and negotiating with Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael to see if we can achieve these objectives”.

Mr Tóibín, as the only elected TD for his party, is a member of the Regional Group who are meeting with Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael today, but as a party leader, he will seek to negotiate with the government separately.

It was widely assumed up until this point that Mr Tóibín would have been adverse to ever working with Leo Varadkar's party, leaving him out of the government negotiations, as Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael seek to make up the 80 seats needed for a majority from their 72 between them, however Mr Tóibín notes that we are no longer in normal times.

"I would be difficult for us to do, it wouldn't be in our normal political instinct, but we're in the middle of once in a 100 years crisis, and it would be wrong to not at least make an effort to fix the situation," he said.

"The big picture really is the Fine Gael led government to date hasn't been a government of; 'We're all in this together', with thousands of people on trolleys, waiting lists and in housing distress.

"If we an reach some kind of agreement, housing, healthcare and jobs are priority for us in Aontú, as well as the regional element, this country is a city state, it needs to be far more evenly distributed."

The policy document produced last week by the civil war parties has come under criticism as a "wishlist" which will be largely unmanageable due to the economic downturn expected after the Coronavirus pandemic.

Aontú agree, and say choices will have to be made about how the new government will be financed with appropriate costings which are not included in the document.

"It's much more risky for a small party to sign up to because of the difficulties we're going to be faced with and the policy directions because of that (recession)," Mr Tóibín added.

"We can't have European public services in an American tax base and that's still reflected in the document, they're promising all things to all people while promising not to increase taxes.

"We will have a document ready for them to sit down with, but we're still looking at this with a critical eye, we haven't lost our senses, but it would be illogical not to try."

Mr Tóibín says both Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael are aware of his new stance on negotiating for government and hopes to meet the parties this week.

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