AN attempt by a Fermanagh Sinn Féin councillor to change party policy on abortion was “unanimously defeated” at a meeting last Saturday.
Sheamus Greene who has previously criticised what he says is “abortion on demand” after the Republic of Ireland voted to reform its strict abortion laws backed a motion at Sinn Fein’s Ard Fheis requesting a conscience vote on the issue. 
“I have always supported the party [Sinn Féin] but in this particular case it’s not a view you can change because your party says so,” he told this newspaper earlier this month.
Councillor Greene said then he had no concerns about speaking out against party policy, pointing out that not all members are in agreement.
After the motion by The Fergal O’Hanlon Cumann in Brookeborough was “unanimously defeated” according to a Sinn Féin spokeswoman, Councillor Greene issued a statement pledging to change the policy “from within.”
“Sinn Féin policy has changed on the issue of abortion. 
“By tabling this motion we simply sought to accommodate the significant number of pro-life republicans who support the party and who are members. 
“Our motion failed on this occasion but I am confident that this will change in the future.
“I have been a Sinn Féin supporter my entire life and will continue to be one. As we have seen, policies can and do change and I will endeavour to make this happen from within the party structures,” he told The Impartial Reporter.
Sinn Fein members, including Fermanagh-south Tyrone MLA Jemma Dolan, voted “decisively” to liberalise abortion law across Ireland.
The motion endorsed by delegates said the procedure should be provided through a GP-led service in a clinical context as determined by law and licensing practice for a limited gestational period.
No exact period was fixed to allow for future changes in medical advice; debate surrounds when a baby is potentially viable outside the womb.
The party also decided terminations should be available where a woman’s life, physical or mental health was at risk and, in cases of fatal foetal abnormality, where an infant could not survive.
Meanwhile Miss Dolan spoke on Irish Unity, telling delegates that partition remains “the fault line through the heart of Ireland.”
“But like Fermanagh winning an Ulster title, a United Ireland has never been more achievable,” she said. 
She called on political parties “who claim to support a united Ireland” to “take action and seize the moment.”
Support us in our call for a referendum on Irish Unity. There is a better future to be had for all of us, if we chose to build it, together.”
Seán Lynch discussed a proposal by his party which looks at the feasibility of setting up a “state insurance body” that would deal with the spiralling costs of insurance premiums.
“Whilst the lower rates would definitely be cause to look into this method of delivering insurance, it would also offer greater transparency around the whole process as motorists would know exactly what they are paying for which currently for me is a real issue in the insurance industry,” he said. 
Sinn Fein MP Michelle Gildernew told delegates that across the world women’s rights are “under attack in the most vindictive of ways from rape and sexual assault, to female genital mutilation.”
“Many women and children live with the daily reality of domestic violence. Last year alone saw 30,000 reported incidents of domestic violence in the North, and over 3,000 reported sexual offences or rapes. 
“That’s an average of 90 incidents per day while underreporting is still recognised as a huge problem. 
“The proliferation of violence against women is nothing short of a disgrace,” she said. 
In addition, Colm Gildernew MLA spoke on carers and that their rights be placed on a statutory footing and the call for the Electoral Boundary Commission to revert to their initial 2016 proposal. 
He also called on the Irish government to release the findings of the Crowley Report into the death of Aidan McAnespie in 1988.