Peadar Toibin set up Aontu in January this after he resigned from Sinn Fein following his suspension over his disagreement with the party’s policy on abortion.
He has predicted that retired GP Dr Anne McCloskey in Foyle, and the party’s South Down candidate, newcomer Paul Brady, would record four figure votes and potentially determine whether Sinn Fein or the SDLP win the seats.
SDLP leader Colum Eastwood is seeking to take back Foyle from Sinn Fein’s Elisha McCallion who won it off Mark Durkan in May 2017 by just 169 votes.
Dr McCloskey secured over 1,000 votes in the Ballyarnett area to be elected onto Derry City and Strabane Council in May’s local government election. She had previously received 3,400 votes when she ran for the Assembly.
Mr Toibin told the Belfast Telegraph said: “I expect Aontu to win thousands of votes in both Foyle and South Down.
“There is stiff competition between Sinn Fein and the SDLP in these constituencies and I expect our vote to affect the direction the seats go in. We are running local businessman Martin Kelly in Newry and Armagh. He wasn’t far off a council seat, polling 822 votes in May. We will also be contesting East Derry and West Tyrone.”
The TD said Aontu would probably field candidates in West Belfast and Mid Ulster.
On his plans for other areas, he said: “We are totally opposed to the carving up of constituencies by political parties in the way it has been done to try to pre-determine election results.
“I definitely won’t rule out either North Belfast or Fermanagh and South Tyrone. Nominations don’t close until Thursday.
“But we will only run where we have viable candidates and a good solid organisation on the ground. This is a building election for us.”
Like Sinn Fein, Aontu will contest the poll on an abstentionist ticket.
The TD said his party did not believe in sitting at Westminster. “I think a majority of nationalists in the North don’t want their elected representatives going to London, they want them sitting in the national parliament in Dublin,” he said.
“If an Aontu MP is elected, they would present in Leinster House. We believe they would have speaking rights on Oireachtas committees.
“They should also have speaking rights in the Seanad, all that is stopping that is political will.”