Sinn Féin votes to fully support unrestricted abortion access up to 12 weeks after a landslide vote

Pictured is Louise O'Reilly at Sinn Féin's ard fheis. Picture Mark Marlow/Rollingnews

Sinn Féin has voted to fully support unrestricted access to abortion in the first 12 weeks of pregnancy after a landslide vote to change its abortion policy.

Party delegates agreed to the move after a 90-minute debate which included more than 50 speakers at its annual ard fhéis in Belfast on Saturday.

The decision means the Government's planned post-referendum legislation to allow unrestricted access to abortion in the first 12 weeks of pregnancy is now certain to have enough support to pass through the Dáil and Seanad.

The Sinn Féin ard fhéis debate heard a large number of speakers urge support for the new policy, with health spokesperson Louise O Reilly, housing spokesperson Eoin O'Broin and party whip Aengus O Snodaigh among those to speak from the podium.

However, a small handful of Sinn Féin members also spoke in favour of pro-life positions, and strongly backed party TDs Carol Nolan and Peadar Toibin who now face the prospect of either ignoring their personal views or leaving the party.

During a linked motion, Sinn Féin delegates also voted by at least a five to one split to oppose any introduction of a conscience clause for members on the abortion issue.

The decision means all party representatives must now advocate 12 weeks unrestricted access to abortion regardless of their personal views or face the prospect of being suspended and potentially expelled from the party.

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