Offaly TD Carol Nolan responds to suspension from Sinn Fein over abortion refrendum
Offaly TD Carol Nolan has told the Offaly Express that her suspension from Sinn Féin is "regrettable" but that it was "unavoidable" given her position on legislation regarding the referendum on the Eighth Amendment and the rules of the party.
Nolan was suspended after she voted against a bill which legislates for the referendum later this year, a move that was contrary to her party's stated position. She fell foul to the party's whip system and received a three-month suspension from parliamentary duties as a result.
"There's no animosity or ill will from me toward the party," Carol commented. "This is the first time I've disagreed on a matter with the party and I foresee it being the last time such a disparity arises," she told the Offaly Express.
Clarifying her reasons for defying the party whip, Carol stated: "I voted according to my conscience and did not vote in favour of the legislation put before me as it was greatly at odds with my strong pro-life values."
"The Bill put before the Dáil yesterday proposed to delete article 40.3 from the constitution which seeks to remove the right to life of the unborn from the constitution. This is the only legal protection that the unborn have as the Supreme Court highlighted recently," Carol continued.
In the wake of her decision, criticism in some quarters suggested Carol should have voted in favour of the legislation which paves the way for the people of Ireland to have their say on the issue, rather than strictly legislating for abortion itself. A number of commentators suggested that her position sought to bar the people from having their say at all.
In response to such claims, Carol said the legislation was too open-ended, saying, "The Bill also stated that 'provision may be made by law for the regulation of termination of pregnancy'." The government is seeking permission from the country to legislate for abortion but has not clarified the full extent of such legislation as of yet.
Responding further to the criticism, Nolan said, "to vote for this bill would have been endorsing the removal of the right to life of the unborn and endorsing abortion. I chose to take a principled stance based on my pro-life values to vote against the bill for those reasons."
"As a Republican and pro-life woman I firmly believe that the right to life of all unborn children should be protected and defended and that each and every child should be cherished equally. The right to life is after all a fundamental human right," she said.
She went on to say that in her opinion, "the Eighth Amendment must be retained in our constitution," and that "repealing it would be a regressive step replicating the mistakes of England where 1 in 5 babies are aborted."
The government hopes to hold the Eighth Amendment referendum in May.
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