Anti-abortion activists in the west of Northern Ireland have printed up to 30,000 leaflets urging voters to make abortion the key election issue.
One unionist source from the west of the Province said that he believed that most churches across Fermanagh-South Tyrone had been leafleted at the weekend while worshippers were inside.
With abortion an increasingly significant political issue – and one which is certain to be raised again in the next Stormont mandate – both sides of the debate are putting pressure on candidates.
Liam Gibson from the Society for the Protection of the Unborn Child (SPUC) said: “We have issued a flyer for these elections outlining the positions of all the major parties,” , adding that they had printed between 20-30,000 leaflets. He stressed that SPUC is non-denominational and that “the aim of the flyer is not to ask the reader to vote for specific candidates but to consider that support for abortion should disqualify someone from receiving a vote regardless of their position on economic or constitutional matters”.
Last year a pro-life group claimed that it had cost Michelle Gildernew her Westminster seat. Although Sinn Fein has repeatedly said that it is “pro-life” but supports some relaxation of the law, the leaflet says: “Sinn Féin consistently promotes a radical pro-abortion agenda”.
The leaflet also criticises Alliance, saying that although the party takes no stance on abortion “its politicians are amongst the leading advocates of liberal abortion here” and describes the Green Party as “radically pro-abortion”.
It urges voters to phone the UUP to find out their candidates’ positions but gives a ‘green light’ to the stances of the DUP, SDLP and TUV.
Eastwood in Polish
The SDLP is making a bold attempt to win the votes of Northern Ireland’s growing migrant population.
The party has subtitled part of a speech by leader Colum Eastwood into Polish and paid to advertise it on Facebook, as well as producing literature in a range of foreign languages.
Upcoming hustings events
lSouth Belfast: City Church (University Avenue), today, 7.30pm. (Organised by Evangelical Alliance/CARE).
lGP and Primary Care Hustings: Clayton Hotel (Ormeau Avenue, Belfast). April 21, 7pm. Aimed at current and prospective medical professionals. (The Royal College of GPs).
lNorth Down: First Holywood Presbyterian Church, April 21, 7.30pm. (EA/CARE).
lEast Antrim: Town Hall, Larne, April 21, 7.30pm (Organised by trade union Unite, focused on employment, chaired by Jamie Delargy).
lNorth Belfast: Girdwood Community Hub, April 21, 7pm. (Organised by local clergy, chaired by William Crawley)
lEnvironmental Hustings: Lough Neagh Discovery Centre, Oxford Island, April 22, 10am. (NI Environment Link).
lLagan Valley: Vineyard Church (Altona Business Park), April 26, 7.30pm. (EA/CARE).
lNorth Antrim: The Braid, April 27, Ballymena, 7.30pm (Organised by trade union Unite, focused on employment).
lSouth Belfast: Agape Centre (238 Lisburn Road), April 27, 7.30pm. (Organised by ‘Challenges’, chaired by William Crawley).
lFoyle: Venue to be confirmed, April 28, 7.30pm. (EA/CARE).
lNorth Down: Kings Church Bangor (Seacliff Road), April 28, 7pm.
l Foyle: Venue to be confirmed, April 28, 7.30pm. (EA/CARE).