Thursday 19 October 2017

Toibin expects to lose whip after 'No' vote

Michael Brennan

Michael Brennan

SINN Fein TD Peadar Toibin has said he is expecting to lose the party whip after defying his party by voting against the abortion bill.

The Meath West TD became the first in the history of modern Sinn Fein to vote against the whip.

Mr Toibin said he deeply regretted that he had to vote against his party. "For me, it's an impossible ask to vote for this bill, considering there is no evidence to back it up. There is no other issue on which I would vote against the Sinn Fein party whip," he said.

Mr Toibin had been deep in conversation with his party's education spokesman Jonathan O'Brien before the vote. But all the other 13 Sinn Fein TDs voted in favour.

The former Navan councillor said he expected to lose the party whip but did not know what other disciplinary action would be taken. He has already had a €9,500-per-year post as chair of the Oireachtas Petitions Committee taken off him for abstaining on a vote on a private member's abortion bill last year. "I'm fully committed to the party. If I get an opportunity to put my energy back in, I would gladly take it," he said.

Sinn Fein's membership voted not to allow a free vote on the abortion bill at the party's recent ard fheis in Castlebar in Mayo, despite a plea from Mr Toibin.

A Sinn Fein spokesman confirmed that disciplinary action would be taken against Mr Toibin, but said the nature of it would be up to the party leadership.

Unlike in other parties, Mr Toibin does not automatically lose the party whip. This is a decision which will be made by Sinn Fein's ruling body, the ard comhairle.

Irish Independent

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