‘We’re unstoppable’: Large crowds protest in Belfast for change to Northern Ireland abortion law
The DUP’s Arlene Foster has said that it was up to the North’s politicians to decide on its abortion laws.
A LARGE CROWD of demonstrators took to the streets of Belfast this evening calling for a change to abortion legislation in Northern Ireland.
After the results of Ireland’s Eighth Amendment referendum last weekend, campaigners and politicians have been turning their attention to the North, where abortion is illegal except in cases where the woman’s life or health is at risk.
Abortion without restriction is legal in Great Britain, meaning Northern Ireland will be the only region on the island of Ireland and the UK where pregnancy terminations in most cases are banned.
This evening’s march, which saw crowds gather outside Belfast’s City Hall, was organised by a group called Solidarity with Repeal, who are calling for a change to abortion laws in the North.
In a statement on its Facebook event, Solidarity with Repeal said: “We won’t stand by as the only region in the UK and Ireland that continues to persecute pregnant people.”
Speaking to the BBC at the march, activist Shannon Patterson from Derry said: “It’s time that Northern Ireland joins the rest of the world. It’s time to progress. “We’re an all-Ireland movement, we’re unstoppable.”
Please share this and ask your MP to back 21st century abortion laws for all U.K. citizens – the women of Northern Ireland should not be left behind! If your MP says yes please let us know they pledge to #trustallwomen pic.twitter.com/8EE5NaVAeX
— stellacreasy (@stellacreasy) May 26, 2018
Irish abortion vote puts pressure on UK government
CNN, May 28, 2018
The historic result in Ireland’s referendum on abortion has piled pressure on UK Prime Minister Theresa May to reform the law in Northern Ireland, where terminations are still illegal.
Members of Parliament from across the political divide have called on the UK government to change the law in Northern Ireland, to bring it into line with the rest of the UK and Ireland.
Decision on abortion law are devolved to the Northern Ireland Assembly, but it has been suspended for more than a year, due to a political deadlock.
May’s government depends on support from the Democratic Unionist Party of Northern Ireland, a deeply conservative party that opposes any attempt to ease restrictions on abortion.
Abortion was legalized in the rest of the UK in 1967, but the liberalization was never extended to Northern Ireland.
“The Government must act to ensure that women in Northern Ireland have the same rights as women across the rest of the UK,” said Labour MP and Shadow Equalities Minister Dawn Butler on Twitter. “Labour is calling for the Government immediately to begin negotiations with political parties in Northern Ireland about legislation to extend abortion rights.”
The Government must act to ensure that women in Northern Ireland have the same rights as women across the rest of the UK. Labour is calling for the Government immediately to begin negotiations with political parties in Northern Ireland about legislation to extend abortion rights.
— (((Dawn Butler MP))) (@DawnButlerBrent) May 28, 2018
No need for negotiation, direct rule. We can tell them what to do because we rule them directly.
— Steve Reeves (@ReevesTP) May 28, 2018
If only #Gammons could stop telling women what to do with thier bodies – it’ll be progress.
— Steve Reeves (@ReevesTP) May 28, 2018
Women in Parliament need to unite, the assembly in Northern Ireland is unrepresentative, if it was working as its controlled by men. Men shouldn't be allowed to tell women what to do with their bodies. I'm a man but I can see injustice.
— Terry moore (@linnetdoonan) May 28, 2018
Don't negotiate… Just do it. It is intolerable to have one part of the UK derogate from a fundamental civil right. This has got nothing to do with devolved government… Everything to do with what being part of the UK actually means….
— Tim Craddock (@TimCraddock5) May 28, 2018
Yes but Gammons are scared of Arlene. . Gammons trotters are tied, so to speak and they are not going to get involved. It is the old, old story of men and religion oppressing women. The miserable dystopian future we all dreaded is here.
— Mel Cakey 🍰 (@kitchenwriter) May 28, 2018
And also same-sex marriage because a lot of women are also gay.
— Juno Dawson (@junodawson) May 28, 2018
Abortion referendum likely to put pressure on Northern Ireland politicians
Irish vote puts spotlight on restrictive laws but Ian Paisley says region ‘won’t be bullied into abortion on demand’
Harriet Sherwood, RELIGION correspondent, The Guardian, 26 May 2018
The landslide in favour of liberalising Ireland’s abortion regime will put pressure on politicians in Northern Ireland to review its highly restrictive laws, though one insisted the region would not be “bullied into accepting abortion on demand”.
Repeal of the eighth amendment, to be followed by legislation to permit abortion on request up to the 12th week of pregnancy, means Northern Ireland will be the only place in the UK and Ireland – and most of Europe – where terminations are outlawed apart from in the most exceptional circumstances.
UK politicians acknowledged that Northern Ireland would come under the spotlight.
The Labour MP Stella Creasy said she would be asking colleagues in Westminster “to back legislation to bring the UK’s abortion laws into the 21st century and to make sure all our citizens are given equal access to their reproductive rights”.
She added: “We cannot let Northern Irish women be left behind.”
Penny Mordaunt, the international development secretary who also holds the equality brief, tweeted:
Penny Mordaunt MP (@PennyMordaunt): “Based on the exit poll, a historic & great day for Ireland, & a hopeful one for Northern Ireland. That hope must be met. #HomeToVote stories are a powerful and moving testimony as to why this had to happen and that understanding & empathy exists between generations. #trustwomen” May 25, 2018
Owen Smith, the former shadow Northern Ireland secretary, tweeted:
Owen Smith (@OwenSmith_MP): “Wonderful news, if true. And a powerful message to Northern Ireland.
We [who?] need change across the whole island of Ireland. May 25, 2018
Naomi Long, leader of Northern Ireland’s Alliance party, tweeted:
Naomi Long MLA (@naomi_long): “If exit polls are right this is an incredible result for #together4yes #repealthe8th Eyes will now turn to us: yet again a place apart. Behind GB. Behind Ireland. #trustNIwomentoo” May 25, 2018
But the Democratic Unionist MP Ian Paisley insisted that Northern Ireland “should not be bullied into accepting abortion on demand”.
Pointing out there was no constitutional lock on abortion in Northern Ireland, he tweeted: “The settled will of the people has been to afford protections to the unborn life and protect the life of the mother.”
Referring to what he called the “foaming at the mouth idiocy” of some commentators, he added: “On Abortion NI has had a settled cross-party view on this for decades. Nothing suggests it has changed.”
Clare Murphy of BPAS said: “For decades, Irish women have been forced to travel hundreds of miles to our clinics in England, often alone, at a huge personal and emotional cost.
“The result, once confirmed, means that the Irish government can bring an end to this suffering, and legislate to provide the care women need at home. Now more than ever it is time for the UK government to show the same respect for the women of Northern Ireland.”