Abortion Bill passes to next stage by 102 votes to 12 with seven abstentions

Sinn Féin TD faces suspension for second time from party over vote against legislation

Sinn Féin TD Peadar Tóibín faces suspension from the parliamentary party for the second time after he voted against abortion legislation currently before the Dáil.

Mr Tóibín was one of 12 TDs who opposed further debate on the Health (Regulation of Termination of Pregnancy) Bill.

But the second stage of the legislation was passed by 102 votes to 12 with seven abstentions and it now goes to committee stage.

Eleven men and one woman voted against the legislation. Two Fianna Fáil TDs, Eamon O Cuív and Marc MacSharry voted against the Bill as did Mr Tóibín, former Sinn Féin TD Carol Nolan, Independents Michael and Danny Healy-Rae, Michael Lowry, Michael Fitzmaurice, Mattie McGrath, Michael Collins, Peter Fitzpatrick and Minister of State and Independent TD Sean Canney.


Seven Fianna Fáil TDs abstained in the vote - Mary Butler, Pat Casey, John Curran, Seán Haughey, Charlie McConalogue, Aindrias Moynihan and Eugene Murphy.

Ms Butler became emotional during the Dáil debate least week when she said she retained her anti-abortion views but would not impede passage of the Bill.

Mr Tóibín was previously suspended when he diverged from party opinion over the Protection of Life During Pregnancy Bill.

Party leader Mary Lou McDonald said when the party held a special conference to formalise its view on abortion and the legislation, that Sinn Féin’s position was crystal clear and “there isn’t an a la carte position” on the legislation.

She said there would be consequences if a member breached the party position.


The legislation is likely to be considered during the Hallowe’en break at to keep as close to the timeline for the passage of the Bill by January next year.

The legislation gives effect to the referendum in May which provided for the Constitution to be amended to allow for abortion services in certain conditions.

During Dáil debate on the Bill Mr Tóibín said it was important to remember that 723,632 people voted “No” in the abortion referendum. This is higher than the total vote in the most recent general election for both Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil and higher than the total combined vote for Sinn Féin, the Labour Party, the Anti-Austerity Alliance, People Before Profit, the Social Democrats and the Green Party.

“That is a massive chunk of individuals. Taken on an all-Ireland basis, the right to life vote pushes to around 1.2 million or 1.3 million people. It is a minority, but a significant minority and a minority that has a right to participate respectfully in this debate in the future. It should not be censored or vilified by any individual or politician or the media.”

Mr MacSharry had said after the referendum that he would respect the result and support the legislation. During the debate, however he said that “sadly I have been struggling with my conscience on this issue and I am not sure that I can do so”.

His change of heart came “out of fear, quite frankly”.

The Sligo-Leitrim TD said “I fear that this will become the contraceptive of choice for people down the line; not today, next week or even next year, but in time.

Marie O'Halloran

Marie O'Halloran

Marie O'Halloran is Parliamentary Correspondent of The Irish Times