TDs who defy SF on abortion 'will be disciplined'
Sinn Féin TDs who oppose the party's position on abortion face the prospect of disciplinary action, its new leader Mary Lou McDonald has said.
Two of its TDs, Peadar Tóibín and Carol Nolan, are against repealing the Eighth Amendment and legislation that would allow unrestricted abortions 12 weeks into a pregnancy. While Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil are allowing free votes for their TDs, Ms McDonald said Sinn Féin TDs will be expected to comply with the party's position or face disciplinary procedures.
Sinn Féin supports the repeal of the controversial Eighth Amendment, which effectively bans abortions here in the vast majority of cases. The party does not yet support the proposal to allow unrestricted abortion up to 12 weeks, suggested by a cross-party Oireachtas committee. However, the party plans to hold a special ard fheis to consider the matter and is likely to change its position to support the measure.
Ms McDonald herself says she believes "in a woman's right to choose" and that she supports the findings of the Oireachtas committee.
She was asked on RTÉ's 'The Week' if the party would be flexible in the cases of Mr Tóibín and Ms Nolan. She replied that she respects everyone's private consciences but party members "have to respect, uphold and vote in accordance with Sinn Féin policy". Asked if failure to do this could result in disciplinary action she replied: "To be frank, yes."
Ms McDonald did not outline what form such disciplinary action would take. Mr Tóibín was previously suspended for six months for going against the party position in a Dáil vote relating to abortion.