Mary-Lou McDonald confident legislation can pass before Christmas if referendum is carried

By Elaine Loughlin, Political Correspondent

Mary-Lou McDonald has joined the Taoiseach in expressing confidence that abortion legislation will pass through the Dáil before Christmas if Friday's referendum is carried.

The Sinn Féin leader refused to say whether party member Peadar Toibín will be disciplined for appearing on behalf of the no side during last night's television debate against Health Minister Simon Harris.

Mary Lou McDonald speaking at a Together for Yes event today. Pic: MAXWELLPHOTOGRAPHY.IE

"Any disciplinary action or internal party management is a matter for the party," she said.

"Peadar has a strong view on this matter, Peadar expresses his view on this matter, Peadar is entirely at odds with the Sinn Féin position."

However, she said any member who votes against the party in the Dáil will not be tolerated.

"What cannot happen and what won't happen is any Sinn Féin member voting contrary to Sinn Féin decided policy on this matter in the parliament," she said.

Ms McDonald said she had not spoken to Mr Toibín before he went on RTÉ's Prime Time debate last night to represent the no side.

"All of us that are party members and those of us particularly in elected office have a responsibility to respect the policy decision of the party as arrived at at Ard Fheiseanna.

"We have made ample room for conscience in the party, people have conscience positions and that's fine, but when you are crafting the law and when you are crafting policy you have to act in the collective good in the common good.

Asked if she thought legislation including around terminations up to 12 weeks could be passed this year if the referendum is carried, Mr McDonald said: "I think the legislation can be brought forward and I don't believe there should be any delay on it.

"We have seen it before on other matters that legislation can move through the Houses very quickly.

"Let's get through the weekend first, let's not be presumptuous but I believe that where legislation is needed and necessary that people can apply themselves, not acting in undue haste but acting in a very thorough and intense way."

Encouraging people to vote yes, Ms McDonald said: "I believe this is a moment on Friday to right an historic wrong, it's very important that people come out and vote.

"I know that change is difficult and challenging for people, just because it's change but we need to move on now, we need to learn from more than three decades of experience.

"The eighth amendment has caused hurt, has caused real damage and now we have a chance to put that right."

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