Aontú Leader Peadar Tóibín TD and Cavan/Monaghan Sarah O’Reilly met with Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael to discuss government formation in the south of Ireland.

At the direction of Derry Cllr and Deputy Leader of the party Dr Anne McCloskey the party put the North West at the heart of these negotiations.

According to Cllr McCloskey “Aontú’s policy document for participating in government formation talks involves several educational and economic policies designed to address the deeply-felt division in the North West. The ending of division and regional disparities in terms of opportunities, education and resources is central to who we are in Aontú”.

In our negotiations we made it clear that a University for the North-West of Ireland is key. For too long this part of Ireland as been with out this key economic driver. We also sought the elimination of financial barriers to students from the North studying in the South and visa versa. We made it clear that the completion of the A5 Motorway from Dublin to Derry a must.

Aontú means Unity and we believe that the case for Irish Unity is now understood by more people than ever. We want a New Ireland Forum to be created to bring together political and civil society throughout Ireland to discuss and plan for Unity, develop a Unity Referendum timetable and to mitigate against the worst excesses of Brexit. Spatial, Economic, Infrastructural and Investment planning must be co-ordinated on an all-Ireland basis in the future.

Our negotiation document contains the demand for a Green Paper on Irish reunification in the next government. We are seeking Speaking Rights for north of Ireland MPs in the Oireachtas and voting rights for Irish Citizens in the 32 counties of Ireland in Presidential Elections. Its also beyond time for the establishment of the North/South Consultative Forum as agreed at St Andrews.

By focusing on economic and educational integration between North and South, the needs of the most forgotten region may be addressed. The North-West has been the subject of neglect, and in the case of the University Scandal, the victim of discrimination and partisanship. Furthermore, there are significant barriers to cross-border employment or education coupled with the lack of sufficient public and transport routes to connect the North-West to the rest of the country.

Aontú is now the only Nationalist party that believes that everyone should have the right to life. In our government formation talks we indicated that we need to move from an Ireland where so many mothers feel they have no choice to an Ireland where every mother has the economic confidence to be able to raise their children to their full potential. We need to make sure that the right to life of children with disabilities and female baby girls are not discriminated against as in the current abortion legislation. We need a society that protects lives rather than the current law where the most vulnerable have no protection.

Our participation in government is no blank cheque. We will only participate of we can be guaranteed that out key objectives will be achieved. Our Ard Comhairle will meet this week and we will decide whether or not we have enough to go on.