Northern Ireland

Aontú 'only party that will defend right to life'

Peadar Tóibín
Image caption Peadar Tóibín said he believed some voters would turn away from the SDLP and Sinn Féin

The leader of Aontú has said his party is the only all-Ireland party to stand up for the universal right to life.

Peadar Tóibín was speaking as he launched his party's first local government manifesto in west Belfast.

Mr Tóibín set up the party after quitting Sinn Féin last year because of the party's decision to change its policy on abortion.

He said that during canvassing, voters had raised the issue of abortion with the party's election candidates.

Aontú is standing 16 candidates in this week's council elections.

'Remedy to Brexit uncertainty'

"It is unbelievable that Aontú is the only party that stands up for the human right to life," said Mr Tóibín.

"Aontú want to make sure that there is a real voice and a real alternative for many people who feel that they have no-one to vote for.

"We are simply saying that this is a core value for ourselves, and we won't let you down on this issue."

He said his party was also hoping to take ground from the mainstream nationalist parties, and accused them of "detaching themselves from grassroots".

Image caption The party is standing 16 candidates in Northern Ireland's local government elections

He described Aontú as a long-term project, adding: "We are rooted in our communities, we are not here to fiddle around the edges, we are here to build a new political movement."

The party also supports a border poll. Its manifesto says it will strive for the unity of the Irish people and the development of a "strong all-Ireland economy as a remedy to Brexit uncertainty".

Mr Tóibín, who is well-known for his anti-abortion stance, was a Sinn Féin TD (member of the Irish parliament) until last November.

He had been twice suspended by Sinn Féin in recent years for defying its policy on abortion, before leaving the party amid claims he had been frozen out over his anti-abortion views.

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