Belfast Telegraph

No Stormont deal without marriage equality: Sinn Fein

Michelle O'Neill
Michelle O'Neill

By Rebecca Black

Sinn Fein's vice president said her party won't agree to a deal to restore the power-sharing government unless it includes the extension of same-sex marriage to Northern Ireland.

Michelle O'Neill told a political debate as part of the Belfast Pride Festival she believed the Stormont Assembly had failed the people by not passing same-sex marriage into law, and she blamed the DUP.

The DUP did not send a representative to attend the Pride Talks Back event, which included speakers from the UUP, SDLP, Alliance, Green Party, PUP and People Before Profit.

Hours after meeting new Secretary of State Julian Smith about continuing talks over the return of power-sharing, Mrs O'Neill said marriage equality must be delivered.

"It's our determination to deliver marriage equality, we must deliver marriage equality. In 2019, for anybody to seriously say any legislator can sit and actively deny or discriminate against one section of society is just not acceptable," she said.

Earlier this month the Westminster Government voted to both liberalise access to abortion and allow same-sex marriage in Northern Ireland if devolution is not restored.

Mrs O'Neill said it was still her favoured position to have marriage equality voted on locally by locally elected politicians.

"It doesn't sit comfortably with me as an Irish republican to ask the British Government to legislate, but if rights are going to continually be denied and the Assembly can't deliver, then that is the context in which Westminster can deliver the legislation," she said.

Mrs O'Neill added: "Any deal that's reached in terms of the restoration of the Assembly will have to include marriage equality, that's the bottom line."

Ulster Unionist MLA Doug Beattie said: "Russian roulette cannot be played with equal marriage."

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