UK News

Abortion will prompt nationalists to vote DUP claims Foster

Arlene Foster

Arlene Foster has said a number of nationalists and republicans will now vote for the DUP following the Republic of Ireland’s abortion referendum.

The DUP leader said some pro-life voters felt “disenfranchised and alone”.

North Antrim MP Ian Paisley said a priest thanked him for the DUP’s stance on abortion in Northern Ireland.

Sinn Féin MLA Linda Dillon said her party has a responsibility to legislate for everyone.

Following the Republic’s overwhelming vote in favour of abortion law reform, Northern Ireland will soon be the only part of either the UK or Ireland where abortion is illegal unless there is a serious risk to a woman’s life or health.

Sinn Féin leader Mary Lou McDonald and deputy leader Michelle O’Neill are in favour of change to abortion laws in Northern Ireland, and attended the official abortion referendum result announcement at Dublin Castle last Saturday.

They held up a sign on stage, saying ‘The north is next’.

Image copyright Reuters
Image caption Sinn Féin’s Michelle O’Neill and Mary Lou McDonald are campaigning for change

Speaking on the BBC’s Sunday News show, Mrs Dillon said: “Not everybody agrees with the position, and I understand that, but most of the people I’ve spoken to agree with most of Sinn Fein’s policies and will continue to vote.

“Arlene has acknowledged that she got emails from people in the south and I probably would be the first one to say that I’d be quite happy for people in the south to be able to vote for the DUP in a united Ireland, but that’s a separate issue.

“We are responsible for delivering good legislation to deliver legislation for everybody. We have to look after people in whatever circumstance they find themselves in.”

The party supports abortion in the cases of rape, incest, sexual abuse and fatal foetal abnormality.

‘Very disenfranchised’

In an interview with Sky News, Mrs Foster said many pro-life voters in the Republic of Ireland were in shock.

“I have had emails from nationalists and republicans in Northern Ireland, not quite believing what is going on and saying they will be voting for the DUP because they believe we’re the only party that supports the unborn,” she said.

“There are many people who are shocked in the Republic of Ireland. Whilst I completely acknowledge the result that happened last Saturday, that doesn’t take away from the fact that there’s a substantial minority of people in the Republic of Ireland who feel very disenfranchised, who feel very alone, who don’t feel that anyone speaks for them any more.”

Image copyright Pacemaker
Image caption Linda Dillon does not believe the majority of Sinn Fein voters will change their vote over abortion

Labour MP Stella Creasy also said that the result of the referendum reflects the importance of listening to communities.

The politician, who has called for MPs to repeal the 1861 Offences Against the Person Act, which makes abortion illegal, said Mrs Foster is “the only woman with any choice over abortion in Northern Ireland”.

Following Mrs Foster’s comments, Mr Paisley said that he had received a letter from a priest in his constituency.

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