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Court ruling makes clear legislative change required in the north – O’Neill

7 June, 2018 - by Michelle O'Neill

Today’s Supreme Court judgement makes it clear that legislative change is required on abortion in the north, Sinn Féin Deputy Leader Michelle O'Neill has said.

Michelle O’Neill commented: “Today’s judgement makes it clear that in cases of Fatal Foetal Abnormalities, sexual crime and rape that the current law in the north remains incompatible with the European Convention on Human Rights.

“Although the Human Right Commission appeal was dismissed, this was essentially a technicality and the court expressed the view that if an individual victim brought a case, a formal declaration of incompatibility would in all likelihood be made.

“Sarah Ewart has already set out her intention to seek that formal declaration of incompatibility and it’s clear that change in the law is required.

“The issue of abortion is a very sensitive one. It’s an emotive issue. It’s an issue that demands compassion. 

“But it’s also obvious that current legislation north and south is failing women and the status quo is untenable. 

“So it’s an issue we have to deal with but we have a responsibility to do so in a compassionate and caring manner.

“Sinn Féin supports legislative change in the north. The first step in this process must be to end the criminalisation of women and through the repeal of Sections 58 & 59 of the archaic Offences Against the Person Act 1861.

“That legislative change should be brought about by locally elected MLAs and should be brought about in the Assembly.

“However due to the anti-rights agenda of the DUP we do not have an Assembly and executive to make the required legislative changes at this time.

“In the absence of a local assembly and executive the British Irish Intergovernmental Conference should meet as a matter of urgency under the terms of the Good Friday Agreement to deliver on rights and equality issues including the critical issue of women’s right to appropriate, modern and compassionate health care.”

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