Belfast Telegraph

MLAs ready for Stormont return, say anti-abortion campaigners

Parties engaging: Robin Walker
Parties engaging: Robin Walker

By Staff Reporter

Anti-abortion campaigners last night claimed that there are enough MLAs on board to force the Assembly to be recalled before the law on terminations is relaxed.

Last night, Northern Ireland minister Robin Walker reminded the House of Commons that unless an Executive is formed by Monday, the Government must allow access to abortion and same-sex marriage.

Mr Walker told MPs: "Whilst every effort is being made to restore an Executive, I must also take steps to ensure the Government is able to meet its obligations should an Executive not be formed in the statutory deadline."

He added: "The British and Irish Governments both share the view that there remains an opportunity in the coming days to reach an accommodation - indeed the Secretary of State is not here in person to start the debate as he has decided to stay in Northern Ireland to continue engaging with the parties this evening."

Talks have been scheduled for today and tomorrow.

Pro-life campaign group Both Lives Matter said that over the last few days it had contacted MLAs asking them to pledge to return to Stormont before October 22.

The DUP's Sammy Wilson tweeted on Tuesday that "just three signatures" were required to take advantage of a section of the Northern Ireland Act which states that if at least 30 MLAs ask the Speaker to recall the Assembly, he will summon members.

TUV leader Jim Allister has now signed, and it's understood the DUP's 27 MLAs (minus Speaker Robin Newton) will sign at Stormont today.

Both Lives Matter said last night that the requisite 30 MLAs had backed their call, although it is not known who the final signatories were.

However, the move is being seen as a symbolic gesture as an Executive would have to be formed before the new abortion law could be halted - something Sinn Fein is unlikely to back.

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