Equality campaigners 'on cusp of success' ahead of historic Commons vote
Amnesty International has said campaigners for same-sex marriage and abortion rights in Northern Ireland are on the cusp of making history as a landmark vote in Parliament takes place today.
The MP spearheading the legal change on same-sex marriage, Labour's Conor McGinn, yesterday met members of the Love Equality coalition in Belfast.
He told them that he was honoured to have been involved in something which would transform people's lives.
Amnesty's Northern Ireland programme director Patrick Corrigan said: "We hope we are on the cusp of success in a long-fought campaign. People in Northern Ireland have had to wait a long time to secure the right to equal marriage and abortion healthcare.
"We know from polling that Northern Ireland is a pro-choice and pro-equal marriage society. It is our laws that have lagged behind.
"We hope that today MPs will deliver on the will of the people of Northern Ireland."
South Armagh-born Mr McGinn's amendment to the Northern Ireland (Executive Formation) Bill was passed in the House of Commons by 383 votes to 73 last week. It states that if Stormont isn't restored by October 21, then Westminster should legislate for same-sex marriage.
The House of Lords yesterday debated further amendments to the Bill, which returns to the House of Commons for a second vote today.
Mr McGinn said: "There is overwhelming support in both houses for the law change, as there is in Northern Ireland.
"As a politician, you get a chance to be involved in a campaign like this to change people's lives once in your career, if you're lucky. The action has been at Westminster, but I wanted to come to Belfast to be with those whose lives will be affected.
"At a time when there is much cynicism and negativity about politics, this is a positive and happy story about the ability of people to effect change."
Mr McGinn said he had met no opposition in south Armagh to his stance. "The letters, emails and texts I've received over the last week have all been very positive," he added.