Abortion row within nationalism after Westminster move

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Aontú has condemned what it says is the British imposition of “one of Europe’s most extreme abortion regimes” on the north of Ireland.

Aontú deputy leader Anne McCloskey and fellow councillor Denise Mullen argued that “ordinary people have been left voiceless and deprived of political power” by recent legislation for the Six Counties passed in London.

They said the Westminster parliament was imposing an abortion regime that will be more extreme than that in England, where abortion is available on request into the sixth month of pregnancy.

Sinn Féin has said it supports the legislation in principle but has sought greater alignment with the regime recently introduced in the 26 Counties, which allows abortion up to the third month.

Cllr McCloskey said the British Parliament was “contemptuous of people in the north” and “arrogantly acting out the role of an overseas ruler”.

“It is increasingly evident that the British Parliament’s grip on the north of Ireland is not without serious harm,” she said.

“As things stand, from 22 October abortion-on-demand for up to 28 weeks will be imposed on us by Westminster. Unborn humans will have their lives violently ended as par for the course for any reason, including the baby’s gender or because he/she is diagnosed with a disability.”

The repeal in the 26 Counties of a constitutional amendment prohibiting abortion except in the case of a threat to the life of the mother was a major factor in the founding of Aontú, a pro-life republican party, last year.

The abortion issue is now set to cause division and polarisation among nationalists in the Six Counties. Last week, a priest called for a ban on allowing Catholic venues to be used for any event of the West Belfast Festival, accusing organisers of hosting events that go against the Catholic Church.

Fr Paddy McCafferty claimed two events - ‘The North is Next’ and ‘Human Rights, Women’s Rights’ - were evidence of a pro-abortion agenda the Féile organisers were promoting, as none of the panellists held a pro-life view.

Cllr Mullen, who recently quit the nationalist SDLP over the issue, comdemned the ‘actions and inaction’ of other political parties in the face of the introduction of abortion.

“Sinn Féin went cap in hand to the British government seeking for it to impose abortion on the north. That is mind-boggling on many fronts, not least because of Sinn Féin’s claim to be an Irish republican party,” she said.

“It is clear that Sinn Féin is facing push-back for its chasing of the abortion and culture war vote, which was no doubt a contributing factor in that party losing half its local authority seats in the south.”

She also said the “professed pro-life credentials” of the SDLP “grow thinner every day”.

“The SDLP has a leader who campaigned for the removal of the right to life from the Irish Constitution and in favour of the introduction of abortion-on-demand in the south,” she said.

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