Tóibín to vote against abortion bill

Sinn Féin’s Peadar Tóibín could be forced to quit the party, after he confirmed that he will vote against the abortion legislation.

Tóibín to vote against abortion bill

The Meath West TD, who had indicated he would defy the party whip, made the announcement on RTÉ last night.

Last November, he abstained from the Dáil vote on Clare Daly’s abortion bill. He was deemed to have broken the party whip and was stripped of his €9,500 position as chairman of the Oireachtas committee on public service oversight and petitions — but he remained in the party fold.

In a statement following Mr Tóibín’s appearance on Prime Time, party leader Gerry Adams said: “It would be a serious breach of party rules for any TD to vote against the party position and they would be subject to party discipline.”

However, he did not clarify if this would mean losing the party whip.

Meanwhile, TDs have been spat at, have had their homes ambushed, and been threatened that their houses would be burnt down or their throats slit because of their support for the bill.

Independent TD John Halligan blamed the Catholic Church and “its minions” in “the pro-life mob” for engaging in intimidating behaviour.

He told the Dáil nobody has the right to threaten legislators in a democracy and doing so “must be illegal”.

However, his comments opened a war of words with Mattie McGrath, who urged Mr Halligan to withdraw his “deeply derogatory remarks”.

Mr McGrath, who opposes the Protection of Life During Pregnancy Bill, said Mr Halligan’s contribution was “laden with insults”.

Mr Halligan urged the Tánaiste, Eamon Gilmore, to condemn the intervention by the Church, which he said “is an organisation that is non-democratic, anti-democratic, historically anti-woman, and which has the most dreadful record on child protection”.

He said: “The irony is not being lost on the public that TDs who don’t toe the line are being threatened with so-called excommunication, yet no such public threats were made to priests, bishops, or anyone else within the Catholic Church that was convicted of abusing and destroying the lives of children.”

Mr Gilmore said he would not condemn the Church because it had the right to state its point of view. He said he too had been subject to “vigorous campaigning,” but shrugged off its significance, saying “you know, we’re public representatives and people can state their views passionately”.

He said there are times, “where the boundary between what is reasonable protest and reasonable expression of point of view has been crossed”.

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