“in defiance of political opinion in the North..”

Ahead of Wednesday scheduled debate in the Commons on equalising “the right to have access to safe and legal abortion” across the UK, in the Irish Times, Frank Millar mentions the contrast in governmental attitude to other recent debates on rights and equality..

DUP junior minister Jeffrey Donaldson last week suggested that any attempt to liberalise the law in Northern Ireland would trigger “a constitutional crisis” and could “put an end” to the Northern Ireland Assembly. Few senior figures at Westminster appear to actually believe this, although the government plainly does not want any form of confrontation given the current stand-off between the DUP and Sinn Féin over the devolution of policing and justice powers.

The British government has acted twice in the past year in defiance of political opinion in the North – in lowering and equalising the age of sexual consent, and in outlawing discrimination on sexual orientation grounds in the provision of goods and services.

And it’s not just on rights issues that the government has been keen to emphasise the desirability of harmonising the law across the UK..