The Stormont Assembly was due to meet Monday for the first time in almost three years to try and block Westminster-imposed laws on abortion and same-sex marriage coming into effect tomorrow. The bid is expected to fail.
Thirty-one Unionist MLAs signed a petition calling for the Assembly to be reconvened in a response to an appeal by Northern Ireland peer Baroness Nuala O’Loan. However, the session will not stop the planned legislation as that requires the restoration of a power sharing government, including the appointment of new ministers to a new Executive.
That requires the backing of the largest nationalist party Sinn Féin, which has branded the recall ‘a pantomime’. The SDLP and Alliance Party have both described it as a political stunt.
Meanwhile, the Irish bishops released a statement over the weekend pleading with the North’s politicians to stop abortion legislation from coming into effect.
Bishop of Clogher, Larry Duffy, said it is vitally important that political leaders in Northern Ireland face up to their responsibility to protect life, especially the life of the most vulnerable, including unborn babies and their mothers.
“I appeal to political representatives to set aside differences and to use the opportunity of the assembly meeting on Monday next and to assert their own authority on this critical question. The political impasse on this has gone on too long and has been cynically manipulated by the parliament at Westminster to remove legal protection for unborn babies in Northern Ireland up to 28 weeks in their mother’s womb.”