Carol Nolan resigns from Sinn Féin over abortion stance

By Jayne McCormack
BBC News NI Political Reporter

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A Sinn Féin TD has resigned from the party over its policy on abortion.

On Saturday, delegates voted at a conference to relax the party's stance and also rejected allowing members a conscience vote on abortion.

Sinn Féin president Mary Lou McDonald said Carol Nolan's resignation was "disappointing but not surprising".

In March, Ms Nolan was suspended from the party for three months after voting against the bill allowing the Irish abortion referendum to be held.

On Tuesday, Ms Nolan, whose suspension from the party was due to finish at the end of June, told Irish national broadcaster RTÉ that she had decided to hand in her resignation.

Last month, a referendum in the Republic of Ireland removed a constitutional amendment which effectively outlawed abortion.

At Sinn Féin's Ard Fheis (party conference) at the weekend, the party overwhelmingly backed a motion meaning it can now support a law coming before the Irish parliament which is expected to allow abortions within the first 12 weeks of pregnancy.

'People have spoken'

Some members of the party had expressed concern that Sinn Féin was effectively going to create a "cold house" for those opposed to abortion.

image copyrightPA
image captionMary Lou McDonald said the party had made every effort to facilitate the views of its members

In a statement, Ms McDonald said she regretted Ms Nolan's decision to resign, but defended the party's recent decision.

"Sinn Féin made every effort to give its members space and latitude to articulate a position contrary to the party's position in the recent referendum campaign on repeal of the eighth amendment," she said.

"The people have spoken on this issue. The Sinn Féin Ard Fheis has democratically agreed the party's position to support the forthcoming legislation.

"I wish Carol and her family well."

Ms Nolan has represented the Offaly constituency for Sinn Féin in the Dáil (Irish parliament) since 2016.

It is understood she will remain as an independent.

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