Sinn Fein TD Carol Nolan has this week been suspended from the party for 3 months for voting against a referendum to strip human rights from the unborn child. Mary Lou McDonald announced, when explaining the punishment, that she respected the fact that people ‘“across society have deep and sincerely held views on the Eighth Amendment’ and that she ‘very much regrets this turn of events’, although clearly that respect or regret were not terribly strong or she would move to allow SF members freedom of conscience in relation to abortion and the 8th.

Carol stood up for the most basic human right of them all, the right which all others stem from, and for that she has been cast out of Sinn Féín.

If Sinn Fein is not willing to accept that its members have different views on abortion, and will instead push ahead aggressively with its new position, how is it possible that TDs like Carol Nolan and Peadar Tóibín will be able to continue with the party at all? Are we now in a countdown to an inevitable split within SF as pro-life TDs and members are bluntly told, ‘This is not for you’?

Carol is the rarest of things in Irish politics: a politician who is not afraid to say ‘this is what I believe in and there are certain lines I will not cross’. We need more politicians like Carol Nolan, not to chase her out into the political wilderness.

SF have always been a nationalist party, so it is sad to now see them so fully accept England’s ‘solution’ to the ‘problem’ of pregnancy. It is not an Irish solution to an Irish problem; it is not solution at all.