Campaigning for No: ‘I am upholding the Proclamation’

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Offaly TD Carol Nolan canvasses for a No vote in Tullamore. Photograph: Tom Honan

Suspended SF TD Carol Nolan is among those canvassing to retain the Eighth Amendment

“I was bound by my conscience. The party was led by its policy.”

With two terse sentences, the Offaly TD Carol Nolan describes the gulf that has grown between her and the Sinn Féin leadership over the referendum to repeal the Eighth Amendment.

Nolan and the Meath West TD Peadar Tóibín have found themselves at odds with their parliamentary party colleagues on this issue.

While divisions have emerged in all parties, the difference with Sinn Féin is it does not countenance votes of conscience. Nolan has been suspended from the party for defying the whip on the vote for the referendum.

Nolan, a former teacher, is a new TD. Elected in 2016, she was seen as one of the party’s quieter TDs.

But on this issue she has been outspoken. She has been openly canvassing for a No vote at every available opportunity. That translates as a few nights each week, and also for the whole of the weekends. She has also addressed No rallies in Galway, Tipperary and Laois.

On a blue-skied Friday night, she is one of eight people on a Love Both canvass in Ardan View, a 1970s estate across the road from the General Hospital in Tullamore.

The canvass is led by former Fianna Fáil councillor Paddy Rowland who says it is great to have Nolan along. “She is instantly recognisable. People respect her because of her views and integrity.”

Published in the Irish Times 08/05/18

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