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Ex-Tyrone GAA captain considering voting for DUP because of abortion reform policy

Lisa O'Hare

A former captain of the Tyrone GAA ladies' team is considering voting for the DUP because of the party's anti-abortion policy.

Lisa O'Hare said she could no longer vote for Sinn Fein or the SDLP because neither party represented her family's views on the matter.

Abortion is set to be decriminalised from October 22, unless the Assembly reconvenes before that date.

Speaking to BBC NI's The View programme, Ms O'Hare, who captained Tyrone to the Ulster title in 2000, said: "As an Irish Catholic who places God at the centre of my home and my heart, we don't have anyone who represents our views."

She added that the "DUP is the only party" in Northern Ireland who seems to be opposing the laws.

Meanwhile, the Department of Justice has said abortion legislation in Northern Ireland will be more liberal than that in Great Britain.

The revelation was one of several made in a freedom of information (FoI) response to a Christian charity.

Christian Action Research and Education (Care) NI has expressed "deep concerns" about points raised in the response. In the FoI reply, senior officials also said the absence of a regulatory framework over the five-month period would "leave a significant gap" which will have "very obvious difficulties" for the Department of Health and health professionals.

The Government Equalities Office also admitted it would be "quite tough" to bring in provision for abortion within the March timeframe.

Care NI policy officer Mark Baillie said: "These documents also highlight that the Westminster legislation which was voted on by MPs who do not represent Northern Ireland is a poorly drafted, rushed piece of legislation."

"The concerns raised by departmental officials are only highlighted further by the publication of guidance by the Northern Ireland Office for healthcare professionals, which leaves many unanswered questions about how the new legislative framework is going to operate in practice."

A Department of Justice spokesperson said: "The Northern Ireland (Executive Formation etc) Act 2019 received royal assent on July 24, 2019.

"The emails dated July 18 and 25, 2019, which were released in response to a freedom of information request, provided a summary of the progress of the Bill through parliament and a briefing on the department's interpretation of the intention of the legislation, reflecting issues raised in debates, and the potential implications for the work of the department."

Earlier this week, the Department of Health issued guidelines for healthcare professionals covering the period up until March 31. The guidance states that no criminal charges can be brought against those who have an abortion, or against healthcare professionals who provide and assist in an abortion.

Belfast Telegraph