Party faces loss of pro-life TD after free vote rejected
SINN Fein is facing the loss of its Meath East TD Peader Toibin after the leadership firmly rejected calls for a free vote on abortion legislation.
The party has taken a clear position that all TDs must vote for legislation which will allow for abortion where there is a threat to a pregnant woman's life – including from suicide.
Mr Toibin was given a clear warning that he will lose the party whip if he does not toe the party line, despite his impassioned plea to be allowed to stand by his pro-life views.
At the party's ard fheis in Castlebar, Sinn Fein deputy leader Mary Lou McDonald said it was not credible to have a "sort of opt-out clause" in terms of policy.
And the same message was delivered by Sinn Fein president Gerry Adams.
Mr Toibin told delegates at the Sinn Fein Ard Fheis that there was a significant section of members who were pro-life but did not articulate their views because of the party strictures.
It was one of the few contentious motions at the two-day ard fheis, which was attended by around 2,000 Sinn Fein members from North and South.
There was strong support for motions to increase state taxes on oil and gas finds, to reduce the 90,000 people on social welfare housing lists and to have an all-island international football team. Another motion was passed calling for the resignation of Health Minister Dr James Reilly.
Sinn Fein leader Mr Adams spent much of his prime-time address attacking Fine Gael, Labour and Fianna Fail.