Aontú

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Aontú
LeaderPeadar Tóibín
Deputy LeaderDenise Mullen
Founded28 January 2019
Split fromSinn Féin
Headquarters8 Market Square,
Navan,
County Meath
Youth wingÓgra Aontú
IdeologyAnti-abortion[1]
Irish republicanism[2]
Social conservatism[3]
Soft Euroscepticism[4]
Political positionSyncretic
Slogan
  • Life
  • Unity
  • Economic Justice
Dáil Éireann
1 / 160
Local government in the Republic of Ireland
3 / 949
Local government in Northern Ireland
2 / 462
Website
aontu.ie
The 'Irish Unity Centre', Aontú's head office in Navan

Aontú (Irish: [ˈeːn̪ˠt̪ˠuː];[5] "Unite")[n 1] is an all-Ireland political party that was formally launched in January 2019, and operates in both the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland.[10][11] Ideologically, Aontú is opposed to abortion and combines elements of social conservatism with advocacy for a united Ireland and centre-left economics. It has been led by Peadar Tóibín since its foundation.

History[edit]

The party was founded by Peadar Tóibín, a TD who resigned from Sinn Féin on 15 November 2018 due to his anti-abortion views after opposing the party whip on the Health (Regulation of Termination of Pregnancy) Act 2018.[12] He began canvassing elected representatives, securing support within a week from two local councillors in the Republic.[13] Tóibín held meetings across the island addressing interested potential members. The first Northern Ireland local councillor declared on 7 January 2019.[14] As of 28 January 2019 eight councillors had joined.[15] A second councillor in Northern Ireland joined on 26 February 2019.[16]

The name Aontú was announced at a meeting in Belfast on 28 January 2019.[17] The Meath Chronicle said that the announcement of the name was precipitated by its unexpected publication on the UK Electoral Commission website.[9] Tóibín said the party had sought registration in both jurisdictions, that "Aontú obviously means unity and our major objective is the unity of Irish people north and south".[18] He recalled that Belfast was the birthplace of the United Irishmen of 1798.[19] Aontú would "seek to build an all-Ireland economy to mitigate the worst effects of Brexit, economic justice for all and to protect the right to life."[10][1] Tóibín said he was talking with Sinn Féin, SDLP and independent representatives in Northern Ireland,[20] and that "people from Sinn Féin, SDLP and Fianna Fáil backgrounds would feel comfortable" in the party.[18]

Aontú's deputy leader Anne McCloskey came under criticism for her comments about the effectiveness of masks during the COVID-19 pandemic, with party leader Peadar Tóibín defending her right to her view on the topic.[21] McCloskey stepped down as a councillor in October 2020, and was replaced by party member Emmet Doyle.[22][23]

In November 2020, the Standards in Public Office Commission announced that Aontú were one of five political parties who failed to provide them with a set of audited accounts for 2019, in breach of statutory obligations.[24] In response, Aontú released a statement claiming that they have submitted the account statements and apologising for the delay, citing the COVID-19 pandemic.[25]

Ideology[edit]

Aontú poster in West Dublin

The party is Catholic conservative[26] and socially conservative.[3] It is anti-abortion,[27][28] but holds left-leaning views on economics, migration and climate change.[27]

As of early 2020, the party's published policies included proposals for a United Ireland; a referendum on a "right to collective bargaining and trade union membership";[29] an end to zero hours contracts;[29] and increased state spending on public housing.[30] Their site states Ireland should model itself on the "best practice in Scandinavian countries."[29]

Elections[edit]

2019 local elections[edit]

At the 2019 Northern Ireland local elections on 2 May, Aontú nominated 16 candidates across 7 of the 11 local councils.[31] It won one seat, Anne McCloskey in Ballyarnett DEA on Derry and Strabane Council, with its two outgoing councillors losing their seats.[32] Several months after the election, a councillor for the SDLP in Mid Ulster joined Aontú.[33]

The party nominated 53 candidates for the Republic's local elections on 24 May, including its seven sitting councillors. Three were elected.[34] It did not run any candidates in the elections for the European Parliament held in Northern Ireland[35] or in the Republic.[36]

2019 Dáil by-elections[edit]

Aontú contested two of the four 2019 Dáil by-elections. Finian Toomey came 7th in Cork North-Central with 1,008 votes (3.9%), being eliminated on the fifth count. Jim Codd came 6th in Wexford with 2,102 votes (5.2%), being eliminated on the second count.

2019 United Kingdom general election[edit]

Aontú contested 7 of the 18 Northern Ireland seats in the 2019 United Kingdom general election. The party received 9,814 votes (1.2%).

2020 Irish general election and Seanad election[edit]

Aontú fielded 25 candidates in the 2020 Irish general election, including leader Peadar Tóibín (Meath West), deputy leader Anne McCloskey (Sligo-Leitrim) and a number of sitting local councillors.[37] Tóibín was the only successful candidate. As Tóibín was not invited to participate in a televised debate alongside the leaders of other parties, the party threatened a High Court action against RTÉ. The party, however, did not proceed with the action noting that there "was not enough time to have the action heard" before the debate.[38]

In the 2020 Seanad election, Paul Lawless contested the Cultural and Educational Panel receiving 2.6% of votes.[39]

2021 Dublin Bay South Dáil by-election[edit]

Mairéad Tóibín unsuccessfully contested the 2021 Dublin Bay South by-election, coming 9th with 740 first preference votes (2.9%) on the first count, being eliminated on the fifth count.

Representatives[edit]

The party has one representative, TD Peadar Tóibín, at national level (in Dáil Éireann). As of early 2020, Aontú had five sitting representatives at local level, including three county councillors in the Republic of Ireland and two local councillors in Northern Ireland.[40][41][42]

Election results[edit]

Dáil Éireann[edit]

Election Leader 1st pref
votes
% Seats ± Government
2020[43] Peadar Tóibín 41,575 1.9 (#8)
1 / 160
Opposition

Westminster elections[edit]

Election Leader Votes % Seats (in NI) ±
NI UK
2019 Peadar Tóibín 9,814 1.2 (#6) <0.1
0 / 18

Local elections[edit]

Election Country Seats
contested
1st pref
votes
% Seats
2019 Northern Ireland 16 7,459 1.1
1 / 462
2019 Republic of Ireland 51 25,660 1.5
3 / 949

Ógra Aontú[edit]

Aontú's youth branch, Ógra Aontú, was formed in May 2020. Membership of the branch is open to Aontú members aged between 16 and 30.[44]

Footnotes[edit]

  1. ^ The Irish word aontú is the verbal noun of aontaigh, meaning "unite", "agree", "assent". The logo also colours the letters separately, forming the Irish word for "you" (singular).[6][7][8] Party founder Peadar Tóibín when announcing its name said it means "unity and consent".[1][9]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c Bray, Jennifer (28 January 2019). "Peadar Tóibín to name new political party 'Aontú'". The Irish Times. Archived from the original on 29 January 2019. Retrieved 28 January 2019.
  2. ^ "SDLP councillor quits to join Aontú". News Letter. 27 July 2019. Archived from the original on 25 September 2019. Retrieved 25 September 2019.
  3. ^ a b O'Malley, Eoin (16 June 2019). "Eoin O'Malley: Sound the death knell for pro-life Renua". The Times. Archived from the original on 23 December 2019. Retrieved 23 December 2019.
  4. ^ Finn, Christina. "Tóibín signs up two members to his new 'Euro-critical party' which aims to protect 'all human life'". TheJournal.ie. Archived from the original on 27 March 2019. Retrieved 8 February 2019.
  5. ^ "aontú [Pronunciation]". Teanglann. Foras na Gaeilge. 2013. Archived from the original on 24 June 2016. Retrieved 6 February 2019.
  6. ^ Ó Dónaill, Niall (1977). "aontú". Foclóir Gaeilge–Béarla. Archived from the original on 12 March 2018. Retrieved 6 February 2019.
  7. ^ Ó Dónaill, Niall (1977). "aontaigh". Foclóir Gaeilge–Béarla. Archived from the original on 7 February 2019. Retrieved 6 February 2019.
  8. ^ "aontú [Reverse Search]". New English-Irish Dictionary. Archived from the original on 21 February 2020. Retrieved 6 February 2019.
  9. ^ a b Becton, Gavan (29 January 2019). "Party started early for Tóibín". Meath Chronicle. Archived from the original on 7 February 2019. Retrieved 6 February 2019.
  10. ^ a b Doyle, Kevin (28 January 2019). "Peadar Toibin reveals his new political party will be named Aontú". Independent.ie. Archived from the original on 29 January 2019. Retrieved 29 January 2019.
  11. ^ "Electoral Commission - Political party registration - Current applications". Electoral Commission Electoral Commission. 28 January 2019. Archived from the original on 17 April 2019. Retrieved 31 January 2019.
  12. ^ "Peadar Tóibín announces resignation from Sinn Féin". Irish Examiner. 15 November 2018. Archived from the original on 21 February 2020. Retrieved 15 November 2018.
  13. ^ Finn, Christina (21 November 2018). "Tóibín signs up two members to his new 'Euro-critical party' which aims to protect 'all human life'". TheJournal.ie. Archived from the original on 27 March 2019. Retrieved 5 February 2019.
  14. ^ Young, Connla (7 January 2019). "Co Tyrone councillor Rosemarie Shields defects from SDLP to Peadar Tóibín's new party". The Irish News. Archived from the original on 1 February 2019. Retrieved 5 February 2019.
  15. ^ Murphy, Hannah (28 January 2019). "Una D'Arcy Joins Peadar Tóibín's New Political Party". Midlands 103. Archived from the original on 31 January 2019. Retrieved 5 February 2019.
  16. ^ "Sinn Fein has lost contact with the grassroots says Lennon as he joins new republican party". Lurgan Mail. 26 February 2019. Archived from the original on 26 February 2019. Retrieved 26 February 2019.
  17. ^ Lehane, Mícheál (28 January 2019). "Tóibín reveals name of new political party". RTÉ News. Archived from the original on 29 January 2019. Retrieved 28 January 2019.
  18. ^ a b Young, Connla (29 January 2019). "New party formed by ex-Sinn Féin TD Peadar Tóibín to be called 'Aontú'". The Irish News. Archived from the original on 7 February 2019. Retrieved 5 February 2019.
  19. ^ "Peadar Tóibín names new political party Aontú". Irish Examiner. 29 January 2019. Archived from the original on 7 February 2019. Retrieved 6 February 2019.
  20. ^ "More defections expected as McHugh joins new party". Impartial Reporter. 2 February 2019. Archived from the original on 4 February 2019. Retrieved 5 February 2019.
  21. ^ Ryan, Philip. "Tóibín defends Aontú deputy leader's right to have a 'personal view' on face masks". Irish Independent. Archived from the original on 17 January 2021. Retrieved 16 October 2020.
  22. ^ "Anne McCloskey to step down as Aontú Councillor on Derry City Council". Aontú. Archived from the original on 17 October 2020. Retrieved 16 October 2020.
  23. ^ "Aontú: Emmet Doyle to replace Dr Anne McCloskey on council". BBC News. 6 November 2020. Archived from the original on 25 August 2021. Retrieved 21 December 2020.
  24. ^ McDermott, Stephen (26 November 2020). "SIPO 'very concerned' about failure of Aontú and Renua to submit statements of their annual accounts". TheJournal.ie. Archived from the original on 26 November 2020. Retrieved 26 November 2020.
  25. ^ McQuinn, Cormac (27 November 2020). "Aontú apologises for delay in sending accounts to watchdog". Irish Independent. Archived from the original on 9 July 2021. Retrieved 7 July 2021.
  26. ^ McBride, Sam (27 April 2019). "Sam McBride: Though slightly obscured from view, a hypothetical path to devolution exists". News Letter. Archived from the original on 27 April 2019. Retrieved 25 September 2019.
  27. ^ a b "Ireland's new pro-life party faces a critical test". Catholic Herald. 12 December 2019. Archived from the original on 23 December 2019. Retrieved 23 December 2019. Aontú leans undeniably left on issues like economics, migration and climate change. [..] for a genuinely conservative option [..] Aontú is a welcome start
  28. ^ Mattha Busby (4 May 2019). "Northern Ireland local election counts continue after DUP gains". The Guardian. Archived from the original on 4 May 2021. Retrieved 4 May 2021. the newly formed anti-abortion party Aontu to be elected
  29. ^ a b c "Aontu Policy on Workers Rights". aontu.ie. 24 January 2020. Archived from the original on 9 February 2020. Retrieved 24 January 2020.
  30. ^ "Aontu Policy on Housing". Aontu. 24 January 2020. Archived from the original on 9 February 2020. Retrieved 24 January 2020. If the state invested €2.2 billion in capital spending a year the 10,000 housing units per year objective of the Oireachtas Housing Committee could be surpassed.
  31. ^ Kelly, Niall (9 April 2019). "Council elections 2019 – all you need to know Part I". Slugger O'Toole. Archived from the original on 30 April 2019. Retrieved 30 April 2019.
  32. ^ "The final result of Northern Ireland's council election for all parties". As it happened: NI council election 2019. BBC News. 4 May 2019. Archived from the original on 6 May 2019. Retrieved 5 May 2019.; Sweeney, Eamon. "Council Election 2019: Aontu get first candidate elected in the North". Derry Now. Archived from the original on 5 May 2019. Retrieved 5 May 2019.; "Fermanagh and Omagh District Council candidates". Election 2019. BBC News. 4 May 2019. Archived from the original on 3 May 2019. Retrieved 5 May 2019. Mid Tyrone .. Rosemarie Shields ... Eliminated; "Armagh City, Banbridge and Craigavon Borough Council candidates". Election 2019. BBC News. 4 May 2019. Archived from the original on 5 May 2019. Retrieved 5 May 2019. Craigavon ... Fergal Thomas Lennon ... Eliminated
  33. ^ "SDLP councillor quits party over same sex marriage vote and joins Aontú". Archived from the original on 26 July 2019. Retrieved 26 July 2019 – via www.belfasttelegraph.co.uk.
  34. ^ Finn, Christina (15 May 2019). "Peadar Tóibín hits out at larger parties: 'If you vote Fianna Fáil, you get Fine Gael'". TheJournal.ie. Archived from the original on 16 May 2019. Retrieved 16 May 2019.; Finn, Christina (4 June 2019). "Aontú sets its sights on Dáil seats as new party wins a handful of seats in the locals". TheJournal.ie. Archived from the original on 4 June 2019. Retrieved 4 June 2019.
  35. ^ "2019 European elections: List of candidates for Northern Ireland". BBC. 28 April 2019. Archived from the original on 30 April 2019. Retrieved 30 April 2019.
  36. ^ "European Election 2019 - Candidates". RTE.ie. 25 April 2019. Archived from the original on 27 April 2019. Retrieved 30 April 2019.
  37. ^ O'Halloran, Marie. "Election 2020: Peadar Tóibín targets four seats for Aontú". IrishTimes.com. Archived from the original on 21 January 2020. Retrieved 21 January 2020.
  38. ^ O Faolain, Aodhan (27 January 2020). "Aontú leader withdraws action seeking to halt RTÉ election debate". IrishTimes.com. Archived from the original on 27 January 2020. Retrieved 27 January 2020.
  39. ^ "Mayo candidates await Seanad election results". www.mayonews.ie. Archived from the original on 18 June 2020. Retrieved 17 June 2020.
  40. ^ Finn, Christina (4 June 2019). "Aontú sets its sights on Dáil seats as new party wins a handful of seats in the locals". TheJournal.ie. Archived from the original on 4 June 2019. Retrieved 4 June 2019.
  41. ^ Young, Connla (27 July 2019). "Former SDLP councillor Denise Mullen joins Aontú". The Irish News. Archived from the original on 21 March 2020. Retrieved 12 February 2020.
  42. ^ O'Halloran, Marie (20 January 2020). "Election 2020: Peadar Tóibín targets four seats for Aontú". The Irish Times. Archived from the original on 21 January 2020. Retrieved 21 January 2020.
  43. ^ "33rd DÁIL GENERAL ELECTION 8 February 2020 Election Results (Party totals begin on page 68)" (PDF). Houses of the Oireachtas. Archived (PDF) from the original on 15 May 2020. Retrieved 8 May 2020.
  44. ^ Press, Aontú (1 June 2020). "Youth Wing of Aontú Movement launched Over Zoom". Archived from the original on 21 June 2020. Retrieved 20 June 2020.

External links[edit]