Other parties have to explain their boycott

21 October 2019

DUP Leader Arlene Foster MLA said,

Arlene Foster MLA

Leader of the Democratic Unionist Party

Arlene Foster

“The Northern Ireland Assembly was properly recalled. It could have appointed a Speaker, Deputy Speakers and passed a Bill today.  The SDLP chose not to.

My colleague Paul Givan wished to introduce the Defence of the Unborn Child Bill 2019.  This was a legal path to prevent the extreme liberalisation of abortion law in Northern Ireland.

The unborn children have been let down. The proper place to deal with laws relating to abortion in Northern Ireland was the Assembly Chamber.  Whilst the NI (Executive Formation etc) Act 2019 will now be implemented, we will explore every other option to safeguard the life of the unborn.

Sinn Fein continues to block the formation of the Executive but the SDLP must now explain why they have blocked the election of a Speaker which could have allowed Private Member’s Bills to be passed on any issue on which the Assembly has competence.

We want to get Northern Ireland moving again.  Other Parties have to explain their boycott.

The last 1000 days have been tough on our public services but also on relationships.  The need in Northern Ireland for all sides to work together is great.  We cannot allow divisions to keep growing.”

DUP Lagan Valley MLA Paul Givan said,

“I’m disappointed that the Bill has failed.  Having exhausted all avenues to get Stormont restored, this was a final step to prevent the extreme liberalisation of our abortion laws.

If the SDLP had been prepared to elect a Speaker, this Bill could have been moved.  However even in the absence of a new Speaker being elected, I had secured legal opinion from the Attorney General indicating that Standing Orders could be suspended to allow the Bill to be debated.

Those who claim to be pro-life must now explain their decision to sit on their hands.”

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