SDLP to hold special conference on abortion in private

From John Manley in the Irish News; The SDLP has confirmed that next month’s special conference to review abortion policy will be held behind closed doors. The party will hold a conference on Saturday May19 dedicated entirely to abortion policy after it was decided that there would not have been adequate time to discuss the contentious issue at last weekend’s annual conference in Belfast. An hour had intially been earmarked to debate a number of motions relating to abortion at … Read more

DUP Councillor refuses to engage with Pro-Choice Group

Emma Gallen is an activist for Alliance for Choice. Alliance for Choice had planned to be at several different International Women’s Day events last week. But the snow meant that many were postponed. As a result, a well meaning campaign, asking councillors at Belfast City Council to support Kate Nicholl’s motion to support the decriminalisation of abortion, gained more traction than expected. The debate at City Council was due to be on Thursday March 1st, but was also postponed due … Read more

Is it time for the churches to become more Christian?

Cathal O’Hagan is a Monaghan native and law graduate, currently doing an MA in Conflict Transformation at QUB. Just like there isn’t momentum for a re-prohibition on contraception; or mood for re-implementing a ban on divorce, the penny will soon finally drop that debates over marriage equality and abortion are not the way for churches to regain influence in Ireland. Churches can either continue with the prominence they give to so-called “moral” issues, or they can refocus on the core … Read more

“Perhaps we can begin with social parity.”

Writing in the Guardian, Richard Angell, LGBT officer of the Labour Irish Society and director of Progress, has an interesting suggestion Owen Smith is right to say that if the parties of Northern Ireland cannot get their act together and restore power-sharing government then direct rule, however undesirable, must be used to make progress on LGBT and reproductive rights. But he is wrong to say that referendums are necessary to give a mandate for change. For one, thing they are not required. Unlike in the … Read more

Old Ireland’s Last Stand; How the Irish Abortion Referendum could be our Brexit/Trump Moment

Ireland is increasingly being viewed as one of the most open, tolerant societies in the world, or at least we like telling ourselves so. There is no doubt that the Marriage Equality referendum in May 2015 was a watershed moment for our society. A chance to shake off some of the shackles of our Catholic past. A past which was often cold, brutal and closed off. This feeling that we have joined the upper echelon of socially liberal nations has … Read more

Update! Shock victory for free abortions in England for NI women as the government suddenly caves in to cross party pressure

The chancellor has just announced that the government intends to fund abortions in England for women from Northern Ireland. I recommend scrolling down the Guardian Live for the sequence of events ending in reverse order with the splash in George Osborne’s Evening  Standard, “Abortion Vote Chaos Hits May.” The Guardian believes this was done so fast and unexpectedly  to avoid  a Commons defeat on the Queen’s Speech, with some Tories supporting a Labour amendment  to introduce it. It carries a … Read more

Conservative pressure is increasing to allow NI abortions in England as a result of the deal with the DUP

The DUP deal with the Conservatives has elevated the refusal to allow Northern Ireland women free abortions in England under the NHS into a real issue in the House of Commons. And if Ian Paisley junior can be said to speak for his party (which is not always the case) the DUP may not oppose a change. This would help the party improve its image among the mass of MPs who opposed a deal with “dinosaurs.” Support for a change … Read more

Northern Ireland Life and Times Survey suggests slight increase in support for Irish unity and cross-community support for abortion reform

The Northern Ireland Life and Times Survey for 2016, which was carried out last year and the results of which were released today, suggests that support for a united Ireland has increased in the wake of last year’s referendum when the UK voted to leave the European Union. Support for Irish unity amongst the Catholic community was up three percentage points, from 31% to 34%. Whilst this is the highest it has been in this decade so far, it is … Read more

The Citizens’ Assembly has spoken: We must repeal the 8th Amendment.

  Over the past weekend the Citizens’ Assembly in Ireland finished hearing testimony and voted on the issue of abortion. The results were surprisingly and emphatically pro-choice, and they represent a resounding success for this experiment with deliberative democracy. Democracy was meant to be deliberative. The idea was that citizens, motivated not by selfish or sectarian drives but by civic duty, would discuss the issues facing their society with a view to arriving at the best possible outcome for everybody. … Read more

Rights are tricky things, especially when it comes to the ‘right to life of the unborn’ and the ‘equal right to life of the mother’…

I get a distinct feeling of unease when I hear an individual or a group on the media complaining that their ‘rights’ to something have been infringed. I wouldn’t necessarily have thought that these people can make any such claim, but they are often vocal in their assertions. A group, for example, may take over a vacant property and ‘squat’ there; when there is an attempt at eviction they will claim that they have ‘squatters’ rights’. Perhaps they do have … Read more

The poor have chosen their poverty, only the lazy are poor, work always pays handsomely and that life is predictable if one applies oneself…

As of last Wednesday, new rules for benefits claimants have come into practice, announced back when George Osborne was Chancellor of the Exchequer. They target the most vulnerable – as per standard Conservative Party practice – including the disabled, the long-term ill and the working poor. Also in characteristic Tory fashion, the changes will hurt women and children most via the new cap on the number of children eligible for child tax credits – and there is an extra sting … Read more

New life in an auld relationship? The Scottish government may pay for Northern Ireland abortions

A tentative move to erode the prohibitive position over abortion in Northern Ireland may become a landmark shift, now that the issue has been raised.  Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon is open to the suggestion  as reported by the Guardian, that woman from Northern Ireland could have abortions performed free in Scotland under NHS devolution. I am happy to explore with the NHS what the situation is now in terms of the ability of women from Northern Ireland to access … Read more

Amnesty NI poll displays attitudes of party voters towards abortion laws

An interesting poll conducted by Millward Brown for Amnesty International has surveyed the attitudes of voters of various parties towards abortion legislation in Northern Ireland with some noteworthy statistics Overall the poll found that attitudes in Northern Ireland as whole favour reform. Full details can be found here.   David McCannDavid McCann holds a PhD in North-South relations from University of Ulster. You can follow him on twitter @dmcbfs

Poll: Overwhelming support for amending/abolishing Ireland’s strict abortion laws

The changes in the Republic from just a generation ago are profound. Today the Irish Times poll produces some remarkable figures showing support for abolition of the controversial Eight Amendment to the Irish Constitution, added in 1983 to prevent the casual legalisation of abortion in any form. Mick FealtyMick is founding editor of Slugger. He has written papers on the impacts of the Internet on politics and the wider media and is a regular guest and speaking events across Ireland, the … Read more

“This is not an abortion war, completely not”. Facebook trolls lay off

This is an exclusive interview with an Ulster woman of a very different character. Deborah McAleese’s interview in the Belfast Telegraph with a housemate of the young woman convicted of self aborting  is  searing, very hard to read. Oddly  the impact was less in voice on the Nolan show ( substitute ) because the housemate was  composed two years after the event. In  Nolan style she was pressed repeatedly for her reaction but held her ground. Her line was ” You can’t … Read more

Department of Health announce new guidelines on abortion in N Ireland

Good Friday this year was on March 25. March 25 is also Lady Day, the Feast of the Assumption, when Gabriel appeared to the Virgin Mary to tell her that she was with child. So you might well think it a strange, tactless, day for the Department of Health to announce new guidelines on abortion in N Ireland. Perhaps they thought it was a a good day to slip out news, perhaps the commemorations of the Rising would overshadow the … Read more

George Monbiot on abortion “The religious conservatives who oppose these measures have blood on their hands.”

The Guardian ran a series of articles about abortion in N Ireland recently (details here). Now, George Monbiot has turned his analytical mind to this issue (here). His article is well worth reading in its entirety. He produced some remarkable information; whether legal or illegal, the incidence of abortion remains constant: Here is the fact that everyone debating abortion should know: there is no association between its legality and its incidence. In other words, banning abortion does not stop the … Read more

High Court rules NI abortion legislation breaches Article 8 of European Convention on Human Rights

HIGH COURT rules that abortion legislation in Northern Ireland breaches Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights by failing to provide an exception to the prohibition on abortion in cases of a foetal fatal abnormality (at any time during the pregnancy) or where the pregnancy is the result of sexual crime (up to the date when the foetus is capable of existing independently of the mother).