SF's Tóibín accepts disciplinary action likely after absence

Fri, Nov 30, 2012, 00:00

Daly Bill:Sinn Féin TD Peadar Tóibín accepts he will be disciplined for failing to turn up in the Dáil on Wednesday night and vote with his party in favour of proposed X case legislation.

The Meath West deputy could not bring himself to back the “Termination of Pregnancy” Bill put forward by United Left Alliance TD Clare Daly.

The Government defeated the Bill by 101 votes to 27 with the support of Fianna Fáil.

Sinn Féin is a party that prides itself on its discipline. Mr Tóibín’s failure to accept the agreed position was embarrassing for the party and was met with a swift and curt response from party whip Aengus Ó Snodaigh.

“The party whip applied and all Sinn Féin TDs were expected to be present and vote in accordance with the party position this evening. This is now a matter that the party will have to deal with,” Mr Ó Snodaigh said.


Mr Tóibín says he gave Mr Ó Snodaigh a couple of hours’ notice that he would not comply, and the whip’s response was “very professional”.

He feels that he has been given “some level of scope” to communicate his point of view, which is different from that of the party.

“It’s clear as day I’m at variance with that view. I would understand as well that there is probably going to be some level of disciplinary action and I accept that as well.”

‘Stepping stone’

However, Mr Tóibín says he will do “everything that I can to work with my party through this”.

The party had not moved against Mr Tóibín last night, with a spokesman saying the matter would be dealt with “in time”.

His position is not dissimilar to that of the group of Fine Gael backbenchers who have spoken out against the Cabinet strategy.

“There are fears that this could be a stepping stone . . . that legislation for the X case itself could lead to a significant broadening of cases which would lead to the death of the unborn,” he said.

“Once the State gives a moral acknowledgment to abortion, by its very nature it starts to change the context in which it’s discussed, which could have effects in the future.”

He stressed his opinion was not formed by religious views. “We need to debate this on a secular basis. When I see religious imagery in pro-life demonstrations I think people need to move away from that.”