19/07/2019

NI Equal Marriage & Abortion Bills Passed In Commons

MPs in Westminster have approved a series of changes to the Northern Ireland (Executive Formation) Bill- including on same-sex marriage and abortion liberalisation- by a majority of 263 votes.

The 328 to 65 vote victory means the bill will return to the House of Lords and be tabled again in the Commons early next week, as it takes strides towards becoming law.

It follows historic moves on Tuesday 09 July when MPs initially backed the amendments to a bill originally designed to ensure the government doesn't have to call an early assembly election. The amendments were initially tabled by Labour MPs Conor McGinn and Stella Creasy.

Meanwhile, Ulster Unionist Party Leader Robin Swann said decisions on Northern Ireland must be made quickly at Westminster. A fresh bid to break the two-and-a-half-year-long deadlock at Stormont was launched in the wake of the shooting dead of journalist Lyra McKee in April, but so far no signs of an agreement have emerged.
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The North Antrim MLA said: "The passing of these amendments should be a wake-up call to Government in Westminster and those local politicians who put their selfish ideology before the re-establishment of devolved government in Northern Ireland. National government must step in and take those important political decisions that have been put on the back burner whilst some local parties sit on their hands. If they don't, then the will of Parliament must take over.

"Parliament is consumed with Brexit at the moment, but the issues which Lord Empey raised affect people on a daily basis and will continue to do so after Brexit. We need to see movement on these sooner rather than later."

It comes after Ulster Unionist Peer Lord Empey tabled a number of amendments to the NI (Executive Formation) Bill, as the party makes moves to protect public services in the region.

Lord Empey commented on Thursday: "I am pleased that all five of my amendments to the Northern Ireland (Executive Formation) Bill were passed in the House of Commons today. There are many pressing issues affecting Northern Ireland and in the absence of a devolved administration, the Government needs to step up to the plate and fill the void that has been left through a lack of local political decision making.

"Parliament now needs to hold the Government to account in how it deals with libel reform in Northern Ireland, setting up an RHI Hardship Unit in the Department for the Economy, ensuring implementation of the suicide prevention strategy, establishing welfare mitigation support from March 2020, and tackling the awful health and social care waiting times in Northern Ireland.

"If the Westminster Government does not deliver on these issues in a meaningful way, then they will be showing disdain and disrespect to the ordinary people of Northern Ireland."



(JG/CM)

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