“It puts Northern Ireland on a par with the rest of the UK.”

The Northern Ireland Criminal Justice Minister Paul Goggins, MP, will introduce the Sexual Offences (Northern Ireland) Order 2008, noted previously here, in the House of Commons today. There was a consultation with the Assembly, but some Assembly members are not happy. From the NIO statement.

“The Order sets out the parameters of acceptable sexual activity in the 21st century and clearly states what the law will not tolerate.

“I am convinced that the changes will offer the people of Northern Ireland a modern legislative framework which will ensure maximum protection from unacceptable sexual activity. It puts Northern Ireland on a par with the rest of the UK.”

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  • Steve

    The so called “union” is a sham, £ngland is sick to death of bankrolling pathetic feeble irrelevant little Regions like N Ireland, Wales and Scotregion.

  • It was Sammy Mc Nally what done it

    DUP at liberty to renege on the target date/deadline for devolution of P and J but if they do then they have to pay the price – first installment above. Hopefully UUP will make life uncomfortable for them. Cant believe DUP did not see this coming.

  • George

    May arrives tomorrow and the screw slowly begins to turn. One rotation at time.

    This is decommissioning redux.

    Time to sit back and watch the DUP wriggle on the P&J;hook just like Sinn Féin did over the stalling on decommissioning.

    It’s going to happen, you know it’s going to happen, just get on with it.

  • willowfield

    One advantage of Direct Rule is that we get legislation passed efficiently. I suspect this would have taken an eternity to crank its way through the Assembly system.

  • Ahem

    Yeah, doubtless the DUP are *really* feeling the pain at seeing pretty much inevitable legislation passed, but not themselves having to take any heat from their own base for doing it because it’s oh so conveniently been done by Westminster. Result nos. 94 as far as the DUPes are concerned.

  • Ms Wiz

    Whooosh! Northern Ireland zooms into the 21st century.

  • It was Sammy Mc Nally what done it

    If this ruse doesn’t work will the big stick of abortion be prepared for use – or at least given a few waves in the air.

  • willowfield

    Isn’t abortion – presumably a health matter – already devolved?

  • Has there been a statement from the DUP yet? they seem to be a bit slow of the mark on this.

  • Dewi

    “MLAs claimed a change could encourage sexual predators from the Republic of Ireland – where the age of consent remains 17 – to travel to Northern Ireland.”

    From the BBC…hmmm I dunno – seems a very odd thing to claim – as if “sexual predators” would have much respect for the law.

    Well done Munster btw Sammy.

  • Bob Wilson

    Willowfield re abortion
    No somewhat bizarrely it is a criminal matter.

    Brown will let some obscure Labour backbencher propose that NI be brought into line with GB and the Labour MPs will vote it through.
    Unless there was a date for devolution of P & J ….

    It would be ironic if the DUP where repsonsible for ‘introducing’ abortion (I say ‘introducing’ because in reality abortion is already as available in NI as anywhere else in the UK but you have to fly to GB to physically have an abortion)

  • It was Sammy Mc Nally what done it


    you may be right


    Saracens very unlucky, I thought they were excellent. Unfortunatley for Munster it looks like Kidney for Ireland. Ireland at home next season to Eng and Fra and away to the easy teams e.g. Wal (where we nearly always win )- I feel another bet coming on. Wonder what betting is on Ulster finishing below Connacht in Magners and no HC next season.

  • DC

    What can the DUP say other than they left it for others to deal with; this time the NIO, education for SF, Gender Regs for Westminster, etc, etc, etc, etc.

  • Dewi

    Bob – forgive my ignorance but if it’s a criminal matter why isn’t it already legal?

    Sammy – I’m just waiting for your glorious victories in NZ……(still on file)

  • Bob Wilson

    The regulation of abortion is a criminal matter.
    The 1967 Act does not apply to NI so the provision of abortion services IN NI is still illegal.
    But with one phone call it can be arranged for you to travel to GB – door to door service.

    Its an Irish solution…

  • BonarLaw

    I don’t see this as a “stick”- the legislation was necessary and brings Northern Ireland law in this area up to date. Abortion, however, would be seen as some as a stick. I say some becasue as a unionist I cannot see why the 1967 Act shouldn’t be extended to Northern Ireland. As pointed out above NI women freely avail of terminations provided elsewhere in the UK so any argument that extension would increase the occurance of abortion doesn’t ring true. If I’m wrong doubtless some kind soul will correct me in due course.

  • Star of the County Down

    The question is, if the 1967 act was extended to NI, would any clinic have the balls to stand up to the (funda)mentalists of all hues and offer the procedure?

  • Rory

    New “parameters of acceptable sexual activity in the 21st century” for Northern Ireland. Wonderful!

    Does this mean that “dogging” will now be legal?

    And what about line dancing?

  • dodrade

    I’m pretty sure 90% of people thought (as I did until relatively recently) that the age of consent already was 16?

    Do MLA’s really think teenagers take any notice of this?

  • willowfield

    Odd that abortion is a criminal matter.

    I suppose the original purpose of the Abortion Act was decriminalisation of abortion.

  • BonarLaw


    s. 58 of the Offences Against the Person Act 1861- attempt to procure a miscarriage punishable by a maximum of life imprisonment or s.59 of the OAPA- child destruction by supplying poison or an instrument for abortion punishable by a maximum of 5 years imprisonment.

    Interestingly, even though P&J;has been devolved to Scotland abortion is a reserved matter.

  • Cahal

    I seriously doubt the Irish government will allow abortion to become legalized in the north while it remains effectively illegal in the south.

  • Turgon

    On the topic of the age of consent: it was always rather daft that the legal age for marriage (with parental consent) was 16 but for sex was 17. Whilst I may be part of the fundamentalist flat earth brigade, I do not see this as a massive change. I gather that the police never took any interest in arresting those involved in consensual, otherwise legal sexual activity with 16 year olds.

    Of course after any coarse joking is left to one side the idea of men in their 30s plus having sexual relations with 16 year olds is actually rather inappropriate. However, it is not illegal in GB and has not as far as I know been prosecuted here in NI.

    What is interesting is that if as Mark Devenport claims this is a stick to beat the DUP over P+J there is a danger that other larger sticks will soon be deployed.

  • BonarLaw


    I think you seriously over-estimate the reach of the Government of Ireland. Unless, of course, FF get elected to the House of Commons and defeat any attempt to extend by the power of argument.

  • It was Sammy Mc Nally what done it


    re. larger sticks – see post 7 above.

    It would be an interesting moral dillemma for TUVERS and DUPERS if the abortion legislation was threatened on Ulster – they would have to choose between allowing retired killers (as they would see it) in government or active killers (as they would see it) in the hospitals.

    Time methinks for all sensible Unionists to hold their noses and accept the reality of the Provos in government and in the office of the Attorney General for Non Iron.

  • Danny O’Connor

    New labour wielding it’s big stick,devolve P&J;or you will get legislation you don’t like.If you want to have control over these issues the onus is on you.

  • Driftwood

    As a (sort of) unionist
    Why isn’t abortion legal here? It should be.
    As for the sexual consent thing…
    just 1 more reason why direct rule should be reimposed.
    What was ever wrong with direct rule anyway?

  • Bob Wilson – “I say ‘introducing’ because in reality abortion is already as available in NI as anywhere else in the UK but you have to fly to GB to physically have an abortion”

    You make it sound so terribly simple. It isn’t. Many Northern Irish women do not have either the information or financial resources to just hop on a plane and obtain a hasty abortion. The FPA provides abortion information, but a lot of women will still go to their GP first and the response they get there depends entirely on the GP’s stance on abortion.

    If they decide to go ahead with a termination, they have to pay travel expenses, possibly overnight accommodation, and quite often make work/family arrangements. Sometimes they have to do all of this without anyone ever finding out that they’re planning on having an abortion. Oh yeah, and then when they get to England, they have to pay £500+ for the actual abortion.

    Yeah, it’s easy enough to get an abortion if you have the money. That’s precisely why this issue has dragged on for decades without being properly addressed – only the most vulnerable women have ever suffered, and who really cares about them?


    Legally, abortion isn’t available in Northern Ireland under the conditions of the 1967 Abortion Act simply because the Act was never extended to Northern Ireland. Therefore, Northern Irish abortion law is still based on the 1861 Offences Against the Person Act, which basically only allows abortion if the life of the woman is in danger. However, at least some abortions are performed here outside of this law but it is very much done at the discretion of individual doctors and midwives. The FPA have been trying to get the law clarified since 2001 and it still hasn’t happened (the assembly rejected the proposed Department of Health guidelines without a vote in October).

    The reality is, there has been a concerted effort from the pro-life/religious right (on both sides) to make it appear that there is no popular support for abortion in Northern Ireland. This is false – all opinion polls done in the 90s/early 00s (though none have been done very recently that I’m aware of) indicated that there was support for a more liberal law and this reflects polls done in the Republic of Ireland as well (and their consistent favouring of the pro-choice position in referendums backs this up).

    Politicians have chosen to completely ignore the fact that thousands of Northern Irish women are having abortions each year so that they can maintain the mantra that there is no abortion in Northern Ireland. These women are citizens of the United Kingdom and they are being shamefully exported from their own country so that our politicians can claim to speak on behalf of us all from some moral high ground. They have all the Christian compassion in the world for fetuses, and not one bit of it for the women they want to force to carry them against their will. Debate and compromise is impossible because the anti-abortion lobby simply can’t get beyond “abortion killz babies oh noes!!!1” (reflected in many, many comments in the numerous posts about this issue on Slugger).

    It is a ridiculous situation and it absolutely needs to end now.

    (P.S. Thanks Pete for seemingly being the only person who ever posts about these issues.)

  • Cahal

    “I think you seriously over-estimate the reach of the Government of Ireland.”

    Where have you been for the last ten years? It won’t happen unless Dublin gives the go-ahead.

  • Dewi

    Joanne – excellent post.

  • Bob Wilson

    Joanne – I think you took me up wrong I was attempting to point up the absurdity of the current set up.

  • Phrionsa Eoghan

    >>The so called “union” is a sham, £ngland is sick to death of bankrolling pathetic feeble irrelevant little Regions like N Ireland, Wales and Scotregion.<

  • PE:
    “Really?!?! “

    Pretty much.

  • It was Sammy Mc Nally what done it


    I suspect there is a differnet attitude to abortion in non iron (and ROI) to that in Britian. The way to reflect this difference and to maintain it, if that is what the people in Non Iron want, is by them being repsonsible for their own legislation on this issue.

    The abortion debate is extermely difficult because it attempts to reconcile what is two unreconlilable and competing rights – the right of fertislised egg/foetus/child and the right of the mother.

    Because someone feels that the right of the ‘child’ is parmaount because unless it threatens the life of the mother it is more important so preserve a ‘life’ than to give the mother the right to terminate that ‘life’ is ceratinly an arguement that deserves to be aired, respected and listened to ( though not one I fully agree with).

    By its nature this is an emotional debate and dismissing the anti-abortionists simply becuase they put forward their point ‘it is wrong to kill’ (my parpaphrasing ) is really playing the (wo)man and and not the ball.

  • Petra

    Is it true that a woman from Northern Ireland is not entitled to an abortion on the NHS if she travels to England/Scotland/Wales, and instead has to pay to go private?

  • Danny O’Connor

    Abortion is legalised infanticide.In the UK almost 200000 unborn babies are murdered each year,that represents a holocost+ since 1967.If some woman think that a child will cramp their style or impinge upon their career their is the option of giving the child up for adoption,abortion rates in the UK are among the highest in Europe,it is being used as a method of anti-conception in lieu of contraception ,many methods of which are – by their modus operandi abortificient.An unborn baby is NOT part of a woman’s body,s/he is a person who is being nosted in the first 9 months of development by the mother.

    If I was to give any of you a lift in my car, would I have the right to drive my car into a wall at 60mph-after all it is my life -it is my car.