Two Sinn Féin TDs face a short-term suspension for defying the party’s instructions on a Bill banning hare coursing.
The party had issued an instruction to oppose a Private Members’ motion by Independent TD Maureen O’Sullivan. Seven TDs did not vote on the Bill last Thursday with a number explaining their absence to the party whip.
Two TDs did not contact whip Aengus Ó Snodaigh and have been reprimanded by the party. It is understood the two deputies are Cork North Central TD Jonathan O'Brien and Dublin North West TD Dessie Ellis.
A party spokesman confirmed the position but refused to comment on what the consequences were.
He said: “Those who were not excused, having given prior notice and a valid reason to the party whip, have been reprimanded by the party.”
The Bill proposed to ban hare coursing in Ireland. It was defeated by 164 to 20 votes. That outcome means Ireland remains one of only three European countries where hare coursing is legal. The matter was last put before the Dáil floor in 1993 where it also failed to pass.
Fianna Fáil, Fine Gael and Sinn Féin imposed whips. Seven people were absent from Fianna Fáil and Sinn Féin.
It is understood Mr Ó Snodaigh informed party leader Gerry Adams of the TDs' defiance of the party's instructions yesterday.
Mr Adams then agreed the TDs should be reprimanded. They were informed of the party’s decision yesterday afternoon. The TDs are not yet aware of the repercussions.
Meath West TD Peadar Tóibín defied the whip previously on the Protection of Life During Pregnancy Bill. He was suspended from the party for six months. It is expected Mr O’Brien and Mr Ellis will face similar consequences.
Sinn Féin had previously supported a coursing ban but a vote was taken at the party’s 2010 ardfheis to change the policy. Sligo-Leitrim TD Martin Kenny said last week it was the party’s position that hare coursing practices should be properly regulated.