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‘There is a hunger for change’

Wednesday, 9th January, 2019 5:05pm

Former Sinn Féin TD Peadar Tóibín says he wants his new political party to be “defined by its activism” as it prepares to meet in Cork for the first time.

Deputy Tóibín’s new party holds its first Cork public meeting tonight at 7.30pm in the Oriel House Hotel in Ballincollig.

The meeting is expected to gauge support for the Meath TD’s as-yet unnamed party, which he launched last month after resigning from Sinn Féin in November over his pro-life stance on abortion.

The initiative has so far had nine elected representatives commit their support and garnered 1,400 members, with meetings already held in Meath, Tyrone and Donegal.

One Cork representative, Cobh-Glanmire Cllr Ger Keohane, has already pledged his support, and Deputy Tóibín says he feels there will be more following tonight’s meeting.

“We have 20 new cumainn (local branches) throughout the country and we aim to have 100 before the end of February,” he told the Cork Independent.

“We’ll have five cumainn in Cork county by the end of January, and are doing well in in the city too. There is a hunger for change that I’ve never seen before.”

Deputy Tóibín, who strongly campaigned for a No vote in last year’s Eighth Amendment referendum, said his new party would aim to represent those who disagreed with Ireland's new abortion laws, which he called “the most extreme in Europe”.

“If you silence a large minority, you push them to the margins. If you do that, they will vote for people on the margins too. This is what has happened in the US, Britain and now in France.”

Describing the party as a grassroots-based organisation he hoped would be “defined by its activism”, Deputy Tóibín said he felt it was different to activist-based parties like Solidarity and People Before Profit.

“I’m not saying they don’t tackle economic issues, but I feel other parties and those on the left are more comfortable talking about the culture wars; abortion, transgender children’s rights etc. But if you ask voters what’s important to them, it’s health waiting lists, it’s people across the country who are living in poverty,” he concluded.

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