The brother of the late Sinn Féin Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness could stand for election for a new republican party that will have a pro-life emphasis, it is claimed.
Peadar Tóibín, the TD for Meath West, resigned from Sinn Féin last month and is holding public meetings across the island to raise support for his new party, which has not yet been given a name.
“I am speaking to a lot of people from a nationalist background and they are saying they don’t have anyone to vote for anymore,” he said.
“Even some nationalists have said to me...they are voting for the DUP at the moment.”
He has been in Sinn Féin for 21 years, eight as a TD, and has been increasingly at odds with the party’s liberalising stance on abortion.
“The government in the south has deleted all its protections [for the unborn] and this is going to continue in Northern Ireland; Sinn Féin has stated that the ‘North is next’.
"And I know a lot of people from the North of Ireland don’t want the north to be next.”
His organisation is already working with Protestants, he said, because “we are at one in our views on this issue”.
The TD is talking to between 10 and 15 elected representatives across three parties in the North who are considering joining him, he said.
Several prominent Derry republicans are believed to be considering joining.
Former Dungiven Sinn Féin MLA Francis Brolly and his wife and former Sinn Féin councillor Anne Brolly are involved, he said, as is Derry GP Anne McCloskey, who stood as an independent in the last Stormont Election, and Declan McGuinness, brother of the late Deputy First Minister Martin.
“He does not want to trade on his brother’s name, he wants to trade on his own name.”
But Declan is interested in standing for election: “I think he has a stated interest and we would be proud to have him stand, absolutely. What we would be looking to do is to build activist groups around the country first so that the selection process can happen fairly shortly.”
He estimates at least 30-40 per cent of Sinn Féin voters in the North have difficulty with the party’s stance on abortion, while in the South it would be a “healthy third”.
However his party will have a free vote on the issue - and on same sex marriage.
There are plenty of Protestants, specifically from the Church of Ireland joining his party, he says, aiming for “100% pluralism”.