Sinn Fein talk of rights and equality but deny choice to women

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With Michelle O’Neill’s appointment to the Northern leadership of Sinn Féin, there is a strong possibility the next first and deputy first ministers will both be women.

Arlene Foster says she is standing up to sexism and misogyny while Sinn Féin claim to be fighting for equality. Yet neither of them and none of the main parties support a woman’s right to choose.

In 1967, abortion rights were won by women in Britain and in many countries across the world. Half a century on, women here continue to be criminalised for exercising control over their own bodies. How can Sinn Fein claim to stand up for equality when they support this continuing injustice?

Martin McGuinness said clearly that Sinn Féin is “an anti-abortion party” (Clare Byrne Show, RTÉ Radio, 13/04/13). Does Michelle O’Neill stand by this statement? If their talk of rights and equality is more than empty rhetoric, Sinn Féin should demand the immediate extension of the 1967 Abortion Act to Northern Ireland.

In Ireland, North and South, and internationally, a new women’s movement is developing and fighting for the right to choose is a central part of it. Sinn Féin’s new Northern leader must choose which side she’s on – real progress or continued denial of rights.

Courtney Robinson, Labour Alternative, Belfast BT4