A breakaway anti-abortion, nationalist/republican party being set up by former Sinn Fein TD Peadar Toibin is organising meetings across the country and has already recruited two councillors, Sinn Fein Kildare councillor Ide Cussen and former Sinn Fein Cork councillor Ger Keohane.
Mr Toibin said he had experienced an “avalanche of interest” in just the last week since he formally resigned from Sinn Fein and announced a new 32 County movement.
“Its like watching a pressure cooker have the weights taken off it,” he said. “There is so much pent up frustration in the Irish political system.”
While the party has no name yet, Toibin said his new party will be a grassroots, activist organisation which will take decisions collectively among its members.
He urged people to be patient. “Hundreds of people have contacted us,” he said. “We are getting through you expressions of interest as fast as we can.”
Meetings which have been organised so far include Kildare, Dublin, Tralee, Cavan, Navan, Dundalk, Wexford, Mayo and Monaghan.
The party’s draft manifesto declares: “We seek an Irish Republic, where the objectives of the 1916 Proclamation, to ‘Cherish all the Children of the Nation Equally’, are achieved.”
One of its core values is that it believes “all human life should be protected and that no mother or child should be left behind”.
The party is a “Euro-critical party” -- one that opposes European federalism and a European army. It also states it will be a party that protects the freedom of conscience of elected representatives.
Councillor Cussen said she resigned from Sinn Fein due to there being no freedom of conscience within the party in relation to the abortion issue. While she said her resignation was a sad day for her, she said she intends to “stand shoulder to shoulder” with Mr Toibin.
It is the fifth political party with roots in Sinn Fein to form since 1986, the others being Republican Sinn Fein (1986), the 32 County Sovereignty Movement (1997), eirigi (2006), and Saoradh (2016).
Mr Toibin said other elected representatives will be announced in the coming days. He says that he is in talks with 20 and is confident that a “good chunk will come on board”.
“I look for forward to working with them to give a voice to the hundreds of thousands of people with no voice in the political spectrum,” he said.
* In a separate development, a Dubliner Brian Kenna has been selected as the new chairman of Saoradh at the party’s ard fheis [annual conference] in Dundalk, County Louth, last Saturday. The former political prisoner replaced Tyrone republican Davy Jordan who served as chairman since 2016.
The incoming chairman told those in attendance it was an honour to be selected as the new chair. He spoke about Brexit and the impact it was having on British politics. “What matter to us - if the British establishment implodes? England’s difficulty will always be Ireland’s opportunity,” he said.
He said Saoradh members have been active in social and political campaigns on both sides of the border and vowed the organisation would “consolidate and move forward with greater strength and vigour.”