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Abortion, all-Ireland football team and political broadcasts on Sinn Féin agenda

More than 250 motions will be tabled at this weekend’s Ard Fheis

Image: Peter Morrison/AP/Press Association Images

UP TO 2,000 grassroots members of Sinn Féin will gather in Mayo this weekend for the party’s annual conference, or Ard Fheis.

Issues to be debated at the TF Hotel and Theatre in Castlebar include the country’s abortion laws, the possibility of an all-Ireland football team and the scrapping of a ban on political broadcasts on local radio.

More than 250 tabled motions will be voted on by delegates over the next two days.

Multiple motions call on the government to grant greater powers to the Irish diaspora. The east and south Tyrone comhairle ceantair has asked for provision to be made to allow the Irish abroad to vote in any border poll, while Frank Stagg Cumann in Mayo and Clancy/O’Callaghan Cumman in Limerick urge the government to give voting rights to all Irish citizens, regardless of address, in presidential elections.

Another motion from Mayo looks for a change in legislation to allow political advertising on local radio stations. The local branch states, “Recognising that local radio stations play an invaluable role in combating social exclusion and isolation particularly in rural Ireland, it is inequitable that they cannot compete with print and online media for advertising revenue during elections.”

The James Connolly party branch in Dublin has asked delegates to support a motion urging the Football Association of Ireland and the Irish Football Association to start the process of forming one international team for the whole island, as well as a league structure for a 32-county league.

As is the case with all of Ireland’s political parties, the country’s abortion laws will be a major topic for discussion at the conference.

While the party as a whole has supported the government’s move to legislate for the X Case, some members want to be allowed to “articulate and vote on the issue of abortion according to their conscience”.

That motion has been tabled by five branches from Meath, Cork, Wicklow, Donegal and Cork.

When a related Bill was brought forward last year following the death of Savita Halappanavar, TD Peadar Toibin didn’t vote with the party line.

See all the Ard Fheis 2013 motions here>

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