‘Same-sex marriage is up to Northern Ireland’, Secretary of State says

The Secretary of State for Northern Ireland has rejected calls for Westminster to impose same-sex marriage.

Responding to a question from Labour counterpart Owen Smith, Karen Bradley told the House of Commons it “is clearly a devolved issue and quite rightly should be legislated for in Stormont”.

However, a group of Labour MPs visited Belfast yesterday to discuss liberalising the law on abortion – which is also a devolved issue.

Concern

The delegation, led by Smith, was hosted by Amnesty International and the Family Planning Association (FPA).

Smith admitted that Northern Ireland’s abortion laws should be made at Stormont, but then added, “if power returns to Westminster, we will push the Government to make progress on ensuring people in Northern Ireland have the same rights as those elsewhere in the United Kingdom”.

Responding to the news, pro-lifers expressed concern at Labour’s “inappropriate” interference.

‘Deeply regrettable’

Dawn McAvoy of Both Lives Matter said: “It is for Northern Ireland to decide its own law on abortion, not Westminster.

“It is deeply regrettable that some within the Labour Party along with Amnesty International and the FPA are attempting to use the political crisis at Stormont to import failed legislation on abortion from Westminster in to Northern Ireland.”

And Nola Leach, Chief Executive of Christian charity CARE, said the move showed a “complete disregard for the devolution settlement in place in Northern Ireland”.

“It is inappropriate for such a move to be made at a sensitive moment in the talks process.”

Protections

Talks aimed at restoring devolution in Northern Ireland are currently ongoing.

The Province has been without an executive since last January, when the DUP and Sinn Féin’s power-sharing Government collapsed.

Northern Ireland currently has the strongest protections for women and unborn children in the UK. Abortion is only allowed to preserve the life of the mother, a position upheld by MLAs in 2016.

And politicians at Stormont have rejected same-sex marriage five times in recent years, despite continued pressure to redefine the law.

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