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MPs back abortion and same-sex marriage moves

Labour’s Conor McGinn, who is originally from Armagh, brought forward the proposal to legalise same-sex marriage Labour’s Conor McGinn, who is originally from Armagh, brought forward the proposal to legalise same-sex marriage
By Staff Reporter

MPs have backed an amendment to legalise abortion and extend same-sex marriage to the north if devolution at Stormont is not restored by October 21.

The landmark ruling was part of a House of Commons debate aimed at keeping the north running in the absence of a devolved government.

Labour’s Conor McGinn, who is originally from Armagh, brought forward the proposal to legalise same-sex marriage whilst his Labour colleague Stella Creasy put forward the abortion amendment.

A Stormont Assembly sitting before October 21 could overturn or amend the law.

MPs backed the same-sex marriage amendment by 383 votes to 73, while the abortion amendment was backed 332 to 99. While the results were generally expected, the scale of the defeat for opponents of abortion rights and same-sex marriage came as a shock to many.

DUP Westminster leader Nigel Dodds said the vote drove a “coach and horses through the principle of devolution”.

Alliance Leader Naomi Long hailed the results.

“This is truly a historic day and I want to pay tribute to all those who have fought over the years for equality of rights for everyone in our society,” said Mrs Long.

“This is the result of a lot of hard work from campaigners, politicians and the community. Added to the passing of an amendment extending women’s reproductive rights to Northern Ireland under the same scenario with the lack of an Executive, our society has taken its next step towards being dragged into the 21st century.

“This does not change the fact we need the Assembly back as soon as possible to deal with a wide range of other issues, including health, education and infrastructure. However, it does make certain any restored Assembly must have the capacity to legislate for equal marriage.

“Alliance wanted this addressed on the floor of the Assembly rather than via Westminster, however, our priority is that it happens. Thanks to this amendment, today we have moved a bit closer to the modern, diverse and welcoming Northern Ireland we all want to see.”

Reacting to the abortion amendment, Bernadette Smyth, Director of Northern Ireland’s leading pro-life organisation, Precious Life, described the vote as “harrowing news”.

“Today represents one of the darkest and most tragic days for the people of Northern Ireland and for vulnerable unborn children and mothers here,” she said. “This vote by pro-abortion MPs at Westminster is abhorrent for so many reasons, it is the gravest betrayal of democracy in living memory. This vote totally disregards the crucial principles of devolution and must be resisted at all costs.

“The Westminster government have done the unthinkable. No other government in the world would dare to vote over the heads of another government and another country’s democratic process to completely ignore the democratic will of the people here. This Bill has been hijacked by abortion extremists to introduce an unthinkably cruel and extreme abortion law here if Stormont is not functioning by October 21st 2019 and we will not stand for this.

“Precious Life stress that the people of Northern Ireland will rise up against such an undemocratic, disgraceful and cruel decision by British MPs who have absolutely no mandate to speak for the people of Northern Ireland.

“The onus is now on Sinn Féin and the DUP to get our government up and running by October 21st to ensure that this abhorrent attack on our democracy is resisted. Rest assured that we will not take this heinous decision lying down and we will fight tirelessly and lobby our elected representatives to ensure that we have a life-affirming Government which properly represents the people here in place as soon as possible. We will not stand for this tyrannical and bloody-thirsty attack on Northern Ireland’s unborn children, on our democracy and the principles of devolution.”

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