TD denies double standards over Sinn Féin policy on Eighth

Offaly TD Carol Nolan was suspended from party for three months

Offaly TD Carol Nolan voted against holding a referendum on the Eighth Amendment in the Dáil.

A Sinn Féin TD who was suspended for three months and lost the party whip after opposing its policy on repealing the Eighth Amendment has denied there are double standards within the party.

Offaly TD Carol Nolan voted against holding a referendum on the issue in the Dáil last month. Sinn Féin supports the holding of a referendum, repealing the Eighth Amendment and for terminations in cases of rape, incest, fatal foetal abnormalities and when a mother’s life, health or mental health is at risk.

Ms Nolan does not support that position and is opposed to removing Article 40.3.3 of the Constitution.

She told reporters on Tuesday that she does not believe there are double standards over the party’s treatment of her and her colleague Meath East TD Peadar Tóibín, who has called for retaining the Eighth Amendment but has not been suspended.


Mr Tóibín was not present for the vote on the Thirty Sixth Amendment to the Constitution Bill in the Dáil last month but notified the party of this in advance.

“It is what it is. It’s a suspension, there was a clash between my conscience and their policy and that’s how it ended up,” Ms Nolan said.

“I haven’t compared my situation to anybody else’s. I’m dealing with it in an honourable manner and I’m continuing to work hard in my constituency for the people who elected me.”

Ms Nolan said she hoped to remain in Sinn Féin and there was “no animosity”.

“I was bound by my conscience, they were bound by policy . . . What I’m hoping for at this time, along with many other colleagues, is that we will have the free vote,” she said.

Ms Nolan was speaking following the referendum launch of Cherish All the Children Equally, a republican pro-life organisation. About 100 people gathered outside the GPO on O’Connell Street for the event.

Ms Nolan said she was “very confident” the referendum to repeal the Eighth Amendment would be defeated.

Mr Tóibín acknowledged his view was “different” from his party’s and that there were “difficulties in every party on this issue”.

“I’m happy that it’s not creating tensions with the party leadership. I’m happy that the party has a flexibility, which it has articulated, which allows individuals from all different perspectives to articulate voices on this,” he said.

Mr Tóibín said he was confident of his position and future with the party and that Leinster House was currently “a fractured place with regards views on this particular issue”.

He told supporters “the life of the mother in all cases must be protected”.

“I have asked doctor after doctor and obstetrician after obstetrician and every time I ask them are they aware of any woman who has lost their life due to the Eighth Amendment, they have all said no,” he said.

“With the Eighth Amendment, Ireland has one of the best maternal mortality rates in the world and I would not support any law that did not guarantee the right to life of the mother.

“The unborn child is an individual living human being. She is the weakest and vulnerable of all human life. She has no voice. All she has currently is the Eighth Amendment and your vote.”

Sarah Burns

Sarah Burns

Sarah Burns is a reporter for The Irish Times