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Sinn Fein gags its own TD over abortion law

SINN Fein would not allow a prominent TD refusing to support his party's call for abortion laws to speak in its Dail debate.

The party's rising star, Peadar Toibin, broke ranks and didn't sign a Sinn Fein party motion calling for X Case legislation – laws to allow abortions where the mother's life is at risk – because he is pro-life.

The party's deputy leader Mary-Lou McDonald denied Mr Toibin had been gagged as a result of his stance.

But before Sinn Fein's high-profile jobs spokesman went to ground, he did explain his stance to the Irish Independent last weekend.

Mr Toibin said he was not supporting his party motion because it called for legislation on the X Case and he comes from a pro-life stance.

He said he agreed with most of the motion, particularly expressing sympathy with the family of Savita Halappanavar on her death.

Mr Toibin said he would not seek to legalise abortion in line with the X Case.

Mr Toibin said he also believed "very strongly" that in any case where a woman's life is in danger, "every measure should be taken" to save her life.

But he felt the X Case judgment was "flawed" and if enacted in legislation it could be abused and could allow abortions up to birth.

"It would lead to the liberalisation of abortion in Ireland and that would be my strong fear," he said.

Mr Toibin said the party hierarchy accepted his position, as there are differences in all parties on the issue.

However, since then, his utterances on the issue have been limited and the party has said it will deal with his failure to support party policy internally.


Contrary to party leader Gerry Adams' claims he hadn't spoken to Mr Toibin "person to person", the Irish Independent understands he did try to convince him to support the motion.

Mr Toibin's position has also thrown a spotlight on Sinn Fein's contradictory stance on abortion.

In Northern Ireland, where the party is in power, Sinn Fein has maintained a staunchly anti-abortion stance, while in the Republic it wants X Case legislation.

Irish Independent