16/10/2019

DUP Urge Stormont Recall Amid Law Reform

The Democratic Unionist Party has called for a recall of the Stormont Assembly in a last minute attempt to stop impending reforms of Northern Ireland's abortion laws.

Arlene Foster said her party met on Monday to initiate a recall of the local Assembly without any preconditions.

Approved in the House of Commons in July, legislation to relax local abortion laws and permit same-sex marriage is just days away from taking affect.

The power-sharing government at Stormont has been collapsed for over 1,000 days following the bitter split of the region's two main parties, the DUP and Sinn Fein.

Moves to reform laws can only be prevented if the NI Executive is restored by 21 October.

Baroness Nuala O'Loan has written to Secretary of State Julian Smith to recall Stormont's institutions before that date.

Ms Foster supported this call, prompting allegations of a "disingenuous" and "pointless" political stunt from other local leaders.

The DUP Leader said: "Our MLAs will return to the Chamber without pre-condition. There are serious matters emanating from the NI (Executive Formation etc) Act 2019 which should be decisions made in Stormont.
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"We urge other MLAs who oppose the extreme liberalisation of our abortion law, to step outside any Party shackles and join us in recalling the Assembly.

"It's time to get Northern Ireland moving again."

Alliance MEP Naomi Long slammed the move as: "Completely disingenuous."

She said: "The Act requires not just that the Assembly is recalled but that an Executive is formed.

"The DUP know that won't happen by Monday: they've put no serious effort into restoring the institutions for months. If they wanted an Executive, they would have."

Her comments were echoed by others in the political landscape.

Sinn Fein's Michelle O'Neill posted on Twitter: "Arlene Foster's call for the Assembly to sit before Monday is a pointless political stunt."

Meanwhile, independent unionist MLA Claire Sugden said she would back any such move but that the onus remains with the two main local parties.

She wrote on Twtitter: "I'll join 29 other MLAs in recalling the @niassembly BUT not really the point, given the issue is with forming an NI Executive which only @duponline & @sinnfeinireland can do. But happy to debate it in the chamber given that I'm not invited to talks…"



(JG/CM)

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