Arlene Foster: Referendum will have ‘no impact’ on law in NI

Arlene Foster
Arlene Foster

DUP leader Arlene Foster said the result of Friday’s referendum in the Republic will have “no impact upon the law in Northern Ireland”.

The Republic’s population voted emphatically to lift the country’s strict abortion laws, sparking scenes of celebration in Dublin on Saturday.

With claims that Tory MPs are pressing the prime minister to introduce reform on Northern Ireland’s abortion laws through legislation Westminster, Mrs Foster stressed that abortion is a devolved issue that should be dealt with by the Assembly.

She said: “Friday’s referendum has no impact upon the law in Northern Ireland, but we obviously take note of issues impacting upon our nearest neighbour.

“A referendum was held in the Republic of Ireland because of the constitutional prohibition on abortion that existed there. No such constitutional bar exists in Northern Ireland. The legislation governing abortion is a devolved matter and it is for the Northern Ireland Assembly to debate and decide such issues. Some of those who wish to circumvent the Assembly’s role may be doing so simply to avoid its decision.

“The DUP is a pro-life party and we will continue to articulate our position. It is an extremely sensitive issue and not one that should have people taking to the streets in celebration.

“I want to see the Northern Ireland Assembly restored and put no preconditions on the immediate establishment of an Executive. Some of those demanding change are the same people blocking devolution or demanding that Westminster change the law whilst simultaneously opposing Direct Rule.”