Anti-abortion group hails election results as a victory

Bernie Smyth has been outspoken in her opposition to abortion rules being liberalised in the Province
Bernie Smyth has been outspoken in her opposition to abortion rules being liberalised in the Province

The leader of an anti-abortion group has suggested the election results show that the wider public back their stance on the matter.

Bernie Smyth of Precious Life said the success of the robustly anti-abortion DUP in holding on to the same number of seats as in 2011 showed that “Northern Ireland voted pro-life on Thursday May 5”.

She noted that Sinn Fein – which has backed the idea of liberalising the Province’s tight abortion laws – did not fare as well.

Sinn Fein’s share of first preference votes dropped by about 2.9 per cent on 2011 (the sharpest drop of all five major parties, each of which saw varying levels of decline in the share of such votes). The party also emerged with one less seat in the Assembly.

Prior to the vote, prominent Sinn Fein member (and Belfast city councillor) Niall O Donnghaile had downplayed the influence of moral calls by the Catholic church over their voters.

Mrs Smyth said that members of her group had distributed more than 100,000 leaflets “informing the public of the political parties’ and individual candidates’ positions on abortion”.

She said: “The DUP and SDLP have publicly made clear that they are pro-life parties. Precious Life are very hopeful that they’ll stand strong in their opposition to the plans of Sinn Fein and others to bring forward legislation to allow abortion in cases where an unborn child has been diagnosed with a life-limiting disability.”

However, the SDLP also had a poor election, losing two seats compared with their 2011 performance and seeing their share of first preference votes drop by 2.2 per cent.