DUP: ‘No prospect’ of amendment changing abortion and marriage laws in NI

Sir Jeffrey Donaldson
Sir Jeffrey Donaldson

An amendment requiring the Northern Ireland secretary to provide guidance to senior civil servants regarding abortion and same-sex marriage has “no prospect” of changing the law in the Province, a DUP MP has said.

Labour MP Stella Creasy’s amendment to legislation linked to NI’s powersharing crisis was approved by 207 votes to 117 following a debate in the Commons.

The move does not end Northern Ireland’s abortion ban nor end the ban on same-sex marriage, instead focusing on issuing guidance to increase accountability of the NI secretary and senior civil servants over their role in ensuring human rights compliance.

DUP MP Sir Jeffrey Donaldson said the amendment “does not change the law and has no prospect of doing so”.

He told the News Letter: “The government has made it absolutely clear that it is a matter for the Assembly to determine the law on both abortion and marriage in NI and we welcome the clear commitment given by the secretary of state to that effect.

“We are pleased that the government and many MPs on both sides of the House have stated clearly that they will respect the devolution settlement and that it is for elected representatives in NI to decide the law on these important issues.”

Party colleague Gregory Campbell MP accused some MPs of attempting to “hijack” the bill’s passage to try and amend NI’s laws on abortion and marriage.

He also hit out at those MPs who clapped and cheered after the result of the vote was announced, stating: “Imagine the howls of outrage and indignation if a pro-life legislative change were to be passed and MPs supporting the change were to behave in a similar unseemly and aggressive fashion, as happened on this occasion.

“I am, like many in Northern Ireland, passionately pro-life. Those who disagree with us have the freedom to do so. But the many thousands who also hold my viewpoint must not be demonised or browbeaten”.

Meanwhile, a TUV spokesperson said the amendment “does nothing to address the issues of real concern here”, adding: “Northern Ireland needs proper functioning government, not attempts to social change.

“People want clarity over bread and butter issues such as how or hospitals, schools and roads are operating yet the anti-life zealots like Stella Creasy have shown a telling lack of interest in addressing those issues.”