Women MPs on political sidelines and must reach out to '˜our sisters in NI': Harman

Harriet HarmanHarriet Harman
Harriet Harman
A former minister has said female MPs feel a new sense of solidarity with 'our sisters in Northern Ireland'.

The remarks by Harriet Harman MP, the deputy leader of the Labour Party under both Gordon Brown and Ed Miliband, came in an address to the Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission, coinciding with its annual statement.

In a statement circultated just before she spoke, she said there is “still a long way to go before women in Northern Ireland are on equal terms with men”.

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In Westminster “Northern Irish men outnumber women by four to one”, she said, adding: “That means men making decisions and women on the sidelines...

“And women MPs in Westminster feel a new sense of solidarity with women in Northern Ireland and are growing impatient with the old idea that we ‘mustn’t interfere’ in support of our sisters in Northern Ireland.

“If Northern Irish women call for our help, we will be there to back them up.”

Among the things she made reference to in her speech was abortion, which is much more freely available on the UK mainland than in Northern Ireland.