Sinn Féin's Anne Brolly quits party 'over abortion stance'

Anne Brolly's husband, Francie, has decided to remain a member of Sinn Féin Image copyright Lorcan Doherty
Image caption Anne Brolly's husband, Francie, has decided to remain a member of Sinn Féin

A high-profile member of Sinn Féin in County Londonderry said she has left the party because of its stance on abortion.

Anne Brolly served on Limavady council for nearly 15 years. Her husband, Francie, is a former Sinn Féin MLA.

Last year, Sinn Féin changed its abortion policy to allow terminations in cases of fatal foetal abnormality.

Mrs Brolly told the BBC that: "With regard to abortion... I can't compromise on principle".

She added: "I also believe that the party has to be reflective of all the views of all the people who vote for them and I don't think that that is maybe happening.

"It's an abuse of power to make people vote against their conscience, so it was from that perspective that I left Sinn Féin."

A spokesperson for Sinn Féin said: "Our position on abortion has been debated and agreed over a long period of time at Ard Fheiseanna."

Image caption A Sinn Féin conference was picketed by anti-abortion protesters

The law surrounding abortion in Northern Ireland is much stricter than in the rest of the UK.

Anne Brolly is now a prominent member of Cherish All The Children Equally - an anti-abortion lobby group.

Image caption A Sinn Féin Ard Fheis (annual conference) voted on abortion in 2015

If Sinn Féin members were allowed a free vote on the abortion, Mrs Brolly said she would have remained with the party.

"It was difficult enough for me to walk away because, I think, Sinn Féin have done a lot of very good things," Mrs Brolly said.

"They have brought us through a peace process and I became involved in Sinn Féin after the peace because I felt I had a contribution to make.

"It was on the basis of community that I got involved with the party although ultimately I will always support them in their drive towards a united Ireland."

Mrs Brolly said that a number of other party members have left the party over the issue.

Her husband Francie Brolly, who retired as an Sinn Féin MLA in 2010, told the Irish News that he has "decided to stay in the party" and "try to change it".

Their son, Joe Brolly, was a member of the All-Ireland winning Derry Gaelic Football team of 1993.

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