Sinn Féin TD suspended after defying party line on abortion

Sinn Féin's Carol Nolan

Cormac McQuinn

CAROL Nolan has been suspended from Sinn Féin for three months after defying the party line on abortion.

Sinn Féin supports repealing the Eighth Amendment, but Offaly TD Ms Nolan voted against the Referendum Bill - the measure that will allow the question to be put to the people - in the Dáil today.

She was the only Sinn Féin TD to do so. TDs voted to approve the Bill by 110 to 32.

Meath TD Peadar Tóibín - who also opposes repealing the Eighth Amendment was not present in Leinster House.

He had told the party he would not be available for today's Dáil vote as he had a family matter to attend to.

Mr Tóibín took to Twitter this evening to say that he does not now oppose a referendum taking place.

He said: "Personally as people know, I strongly oppose the Eighth Amendment being deleted from the Irish Constitution. However, at this stage I believe that there should be a referendum. What's needed now is honest and respectful debate."

This evening Sinn Féin whip Aengus Ó Snodaigh TD told Ms Nolan of her suspension from the party for three months.

In a statement party leader Mary Lou McDonald said: “People across society have deep and sincerely held views on the Eighth Amendment. I recognise and respect that fact.

“Carol holds strong, personal convictions on this matter.

“At all stages, the party has acknowledged and respected her views and her right to articulate those views.

“However, Sinn Féin elected representatives are expected to respect policy decisions taken by the Ard Fheis and to vote in line with party policy.

“All Sinn Féin elected representatives, including members of the Oireachtas, are aware of this.

“Carol is a valued colleague and I very much regret this turn of events, " Ms McDonald said, but added: "

“However, as legislators we have a responsibility to vote as we are mandated by long standing Sinn Féin policy, a policy which we strongly believe is in the best interests of women.”

Ms Nolan is the second Sinn Féin Oireachtas member to be suspended by the party this week.

Senator Máire Devine was also suspended for three months for retweeting a post on Twitter that described IRA murder victim Brian Stack as a "sadistic prison offcer".

Mr Stack's son Austin has called on Ms Devine to resign in light of retweet which has caused hurt to his family.

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar, Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin and Labour leader Brendan Howlin have all called for her to give up her Seanad seat.