Following a call from Baroness O’Loan, supported by Both Lives Matter and others, 31 MLAs have signed a petition to recall the Assembly to discuss the motion that legislation on abortion will be most appropriately determined by the Northern Ireland Assembly.
Dawn McAvoy of Both Lives Matter commented, “The majority of people in Northern Ireland do not support the abortion regime being imposed by Westminster. Baroness O’Loan has consistently tried to prevent these changes and has led the calls to reconvene Stormont. Today 31 MLAs have heeded that call.”
McAvoy continues, “Northern Ireland has been without government for over 1000 days. Abortion is not, and never has been the stumbling block. We hope that it might now be the issue that helps bring the Assembly back. We recognise that there is not a unified position on abortion, but there does appear to be agreement that this should be decided at Stormont rather than Westminster. We have done all we can to allow each MLA to stand up and say whether they support the Westminster legislation or oppose it. It is over to them now.”
On Thursday 26 September, Baroness O’Loan, with the support of groups such as Both Lives Matter, launched a petition calling for Stormont to be reconvened. The petition has received over 25,000 signatures and can be viewed here
On the 10th October Both Lives Matter sent an email to all MLAs asking them to pledge to return to the Assembly before 22 October, to appoint Executive Ministers and to deal with matters of major importance. MLAs were asked to respond by Wednesday 16 October at 12pm. More than 30 MLAs signed the pledge.
In the interim, Baroness O’Loan renewed her call for the Assembly to be reconvened and various groups became aware that there is a mechanism for 31 MLAs to do this under the standing orders of the Assembly. Unfortunately, some MLAs and commentators seem unaware of this timeline and have labelled the recall of the Assembly a publicity stunt. This initiative was driven by Baroness O’Loan and supported by various pro-life groups. How individual MLAs and parties respond is a matter for them, but those behind the initiative are committed to stopping radical change to Northern Ireland’s abortion laws. To do so requires the formation of the Executive before 22 October and the first step on that journey is to recall the Assembly.
If an Executive is reformed, with the appointment of the ministerial positions agreed by midnight on Monday 21 October, then the radical abortion regime imposed by English, Welsh and Scottish MPs will not become law.
Both Lives Matter has invited every MLA to be a part of that process. Some have signed the recall petition, others have indicated their willingness to show up on Monday.
Dawn McAvoy says, “We know that the majority of people in Northern Ireland do not support the abortion regime being imposed by Westminster. We have done all we can to allow each MLA to stand up and say whether they support the Westminster legislation or oppose it.”