Tuesday 22 May 2018

No free vote for Sinn Fein parliamentary party on abortion

Sinn Féin Deputy Leader Mary Lou McDonald pictured at the Séin Fein Ard Fheis in the RDS.Picture Credit:Frank Mc Grath
Sinn Féin Deputy Leader Mary Lou McDonald pictured at the Séin Fein Ard Fheis in the RDS.Picture Credit:Frank Mc Grath
Kevin Doyle

Kevin Doyle

Sinn Fein will not allow its TDs or senators to have a free vote on abortion.

Party delegates have told their representatives to support the repeal of the Eighth Amendment – but to limit the cases in which terminations are allowed.

The move raises serious questions about the future of Meath West TD Peadar Toibin who asked their Ard Fheis “to offer us some flexibility on this issue”.

Sinn Fein’s deputy leader Mary Lou McDonald said the party would not “cop out” by allowing TDs to vote with their individual conscience in the same as way Fine Gael and Fianna Fail.

She accused the two parties of having an “a la carte approach” to the referendum on the Eighth Amendment.

The motion passed by the Ard Fheis states: “The party accepts the need for the availability of abortion where a women’s life, health or mental health is at risk, and in cases of fatal foetal abnormality and in the cases or rape or sexual abuse.”

Ms McDonald said the free vote “nothing to do with freedom of conscience and everything do to with political expediency”.

“The Eighth Amendment protects nobody. It has no place in the Irish constitution,” she said.

The Dublin Central TD said the law which gives equal status to a woman and her unborn baby should never have been entered into the constitution.

And she added that it has remained in place because of “a monumental failure of leadership”.

However, Mr Toibin told the conference: ““The right to life is the primary human right. You cannot cherish all the children equally if you do not give the right to life to all the children.”

He said that in Britain a “shocking” 97pc of children diagnosed with Down Syndrome in the womb are aborted.

Mr Toibin said that any law which looked like the British abortion act would be “political kryptonite”.

And the TD said the party’s policy on abortion had shifted three times in the past four years.

“Is it not reasonable to offer us some flexibility on this issue,” he asked.

Online Editors

Today's news headlines, directly to your inbox every morning.

Also in this section