Sinn Féin TD Peadar Tóibín has been suspended from the party for six months after voting against abortion legislation.

Mr Tóibín had actively campaigned for a No vote during the referendum on the eighth amendment, even though his party had supported a Yes vote.

This is the second time the Meath West TD has been suspended from the party.

He was suspended for six months in 2013 after voting against the Protection of Life During Pregnancy Bill.

In a statement he said it was his understanding that if there was a general election during his suspension he would not be able to stand for Sinn Féin as a candidate.

He added that it was also his understanding that he would not be able to re-enter the party if he seeks re-election during the six-month suspension. 

He said the situation created significant uncertainty and difficulty and he will give the matter serious consideration over the next week.

Sinn Féin confirmed that Mr Tóibín would not be able to run for the party as a candidate during his suspension.

However, a spokesperson said it would be a matter for the Ard Comhairle whether he could re-enter the party if he sought re-election during his suspension.

Speaking on RTÉ's News at One, Mr Tóibín said he was told by Sinn Féin that if he stood as an Independent in the next election, there would be "no way back" for him into the party.

"The issue is obviously a very contentious issue, there isn't a family in the country probably where everybody is exactly on the same page on it," said Mr Tóibín.

"I couldn't, in good conscience, vote for the bill itself. I believe that TDs are responsible for the votes that they carry out in the Dáil and the outcome of those votes.

"And also, there's 34% of the population who voted to retain the 8th Amendment, and about 20% of the Yes voters who don't agree with this particular bill. I think it's important that those people have a voice in Leinster House," he said.

"Party policy has changed fairly radically in the last number of years. Indeed, there would have been one calendar year where the party had a number of different policies on a particular issue.

"I'm in Sinn Féin for 21 years now, and I believe in the core objectives of Sinn Féin - I believe in a united Ireland and I also believe in economic justice. There's nobody in any political organisation that doesn't have some differences with their political organisation.

"Obviously the party voted to have a whip on this particular issue. It is a democratic norm internationally that this isn't a whipped issue. Indeed, East Germany in its whole existence only had one vote where there wasn't a whip on an issue, and it was on the issue of abortion," said the TD.

"My view is that Meath needs strong representation and also for economic justice and Irish unity, we need strong representation, and I'm hoping to see is there a possibility that I can play a full role within Sinn Féin in the future."

When asked to clarify his position within the party in the event of an election in the next six months, Mr Tóibín said that Sinn Féin would seek to run a candidate against him.

"If there's an election while I'm suspended, I won't be able to stand for the party, and the party will seek to run a separate candidate in Meath. I have been told that for sure. I have also been told that if I stand as an Independent during the suspension, that there would be no way back for me into the party in future.

"My instinct on this has been that it's possible for people who have different views on this particular issue to coexist and to work together on many other issues. We're not there yet obviously within Sinn Féin, whether we achieve that in the future I don't know. My objective is to find out if that can be achieved," he said.