A motion to vote on the issue of abortion according to conscience has been rejected at the Sinn Féin Ard Fheis in Wexford.

Amongst those who spoke in favour of the motion was Deputy Peadar Tobín, who returned to Sinn Féin last week, following suspension after voting against the party on the Protection of Life During Pregnancy Bill.

Mr Tobín said allowing party members to vote with their conscience would create space for those on both sides of the debate

Amongst those who rejected the motion was Deputy Mary Lou McDonald.

Earlier, Northern Ireland's Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness addressed the conference.

He said the Haass proposals represent "a huge missed opportunity" if they are not accepted.

Mr McGuinness said the time had come for "unionist politicians to stop dancing to the tune of the Orange Order and their extremists".

Around 1,500 delegates are expected to attend the two-day meeting.

The Wexford gathering comes less than four months before Local and European Elections.

Sinn Féin currently has just over 50 city and county councillors, placing it a distant fourth place among the big political parties.

But the party has consistently enjoyed higher support in opinion polls than it received in the last General Election.

Four Sinn Féin candidates for European Election

Sinn Féin president Gerry Adams has said four party members will contest the European Elections and at least 350 candidates will stand for local election.

Speaking on RTÉ's Today with Sean O'Rourke, he said at least one third will be women.

The party currently has no MEP elected from the Republic.

Mr Adams said he did not intend to stay on as party leader forever, but that he had always been a team player.

He was responding to a question on whether he thought it was time for him to step down as leader to allow the party to go forward more effectively.

Mr Adams said he was a servant of Sinn Féin.

He also said his party would not go into a coalition government after the next General Election, unless it could keep the promises it would make.

Mr Adams said he was "not mesmerised" by being in coalition at this time and added that Sinn Féin was not interested in being there like the Labour Party "for the sake of it".