Peadar Tóibín: Sinn Fein suspend T.D. for voting against party on abortion legislation

Suspended Sinn Fein T.D., Peadar Tibn and Sinn Fein President, Mary-Lou McDonald T.D.
Suspended Sinn Fein T.D., Peadar Tibn and Sinn Fein President, Mary-Lou McDonald T.D.

Sinn Fein has suspended Meath T.D. Peadar Tóibín for voting against the party on abortion legislation in the Dáil last month.

Tóibín actively campaigned against the proposal to repeal the eighth amendment of the Irish constitution earlier this year.

Sinn Fein took a pro-choice stance during the referendum campaign and party president, Mary-Lou McDonald, said as far back as April, that Tóibín would most likely be disciplined for breaking ranks with the party.

The people of Ireland voted by 66.4% to 33.6% in the referendum to repeal the Eighth Amendment in May 2018.

Sinn Féin’s Whip in the Dáil, Aengus Ó Snodaigh, announced Tóibín’s suspension for a period of six months was “as a result of his breach of the party whip when he voted against the Health (Regulation of Termination of Pregnancy) Bill 2018 last week, in contradiction to the party’s position.

"The proposed abortion legislation is in line with Sinn Féin’s policy position as agreed democratically at our Ard Fheis," added Ó Snodaigh.

Tóibín responded to the news of suspension by explaining his reasons for voting against the party and hinted that there could be further developments within the next week.

"I have been a member of Sinn Fein for 21 years. From a young age I have been inspired by the selfless sacrifice of generations of republicans from Wolfe Tone to Bobby Sands. I joined Sinn Féin when it was not easy to join Sinn Féin. In the intervening years I have poured all my energy into building a movement to achieve a United Ireland and Economic Justice.

"It is also important to note that the 34% of the population that voted to retain the 8th Amendment plus the 20% of Yes voters who don’t agree with this bill should have a voice in the Oireachtas. It is reasonable that TDs should give voice to the opposing views on Simon Harris’ Abortion Bill in roughly the proportion that exists in society. There is no better way to push voters to the extreme than to deny them a legitimate democratic voice."

Tóibín added: "There is a significant chance of an election during the next six months. In the current political instability the suspension could become a de facto expulsion. It is my understanding that while on suspension I would be prevented from standing for Sinn Féin as a candidate and would not be allowed to re-enter the party subsequently if I seek re-election during the suspension. The six month suspension presents significant difficulties and uncertainty.

"I am a proud Meath man and believe passionately that Meath needs strong robust representation in the Dáil. I also believe strongly in economic justice and Irish Unity. It is hard to achieve this if I am being prevented from paying a full role in the Sinn Féin team. I will give serious consideration to this suspension over the next week."