Northern Ireland’s former Attorney General will represent pro-lifers in a judicial review against the Westminster Government over its attempt to override the Stormont Executive on abortion.
The highly respected QC, John Larkin, has been instructed in the case, which is being funded by the Society for the Protection of Unborn Children (SPUC).
The groups are challenging the Government’s decision to grant Brandon Lewis new powers to force the Executive to commission abortion services nationwide. Individual hospital trusts already perform abortions, but Westminster politicians want this to be a requirement throughout the Province.
‘Disgraceful power grab’
SPUC’s Liam Gibson said: “This is a disgraceful power grab by the Westminster government. If allowed to stand it will not only condemn to death an untold number of unborn babies but fatally undermine the devolution settlement as well.
These Regulations give an unprecedented level of power to a politician who is not answerable to the people of Northern Ireland
“When the Northern Ireland Executive was not functioning, the UK Government foisted radical abortion laws on us which would never have secured a majority in the Stormont Assembly. By seizing the power over our abortion laws, London is stripping locally elected Ministers of power and have denied the people an accountable government with a democratic mandate.”
Gibson added: “These Regulations give an unprecedented level of power to a politician who is not answerable to the people of Northern Ireland. It is a basic principle of democracy that politicians are accountable to the electorate.
“In 2019, seventy-nine per cent of submissions to the public consultation on abortion rejected the government’s proposals but London has shown nothing but disdain for their views and contempt for the lives of our unborn children.”
The move to give the Northern Ireland Secretary new powers has been strongly criticised by DUP MP Carla Lockhart, who said the move poses a major threat to the union.
Writing for The House magazine, Lockhart said it is seen as “unwelcome by many in Northern Ireland” and sets “a dangerous precedent for devolution”. She pointed out that every MP from Northern Ireland who took their seat in Parliament voted against the new powers being given to NI Secretary.
complete disrespect for the people of Northern Ireland
She said: “Overriding a fully functioning and democratic Executive and Assembly is an extreme overreach of power and sets a dangerous precedent for devolution and, therefore, the union. Given this, all matters related to abortion policy should be left to MLAs – those who represent the people of Northern Ireland on this devolved matter – the majority of whom are pro-life and do not want a radical abortion regime imposed against their will.”
The MP continued: “That the UK government thinks such a move is acceptable in Northern Ireland shows complete disrespect for the people of Northern Ireland.”