Belfast Telegraph

Poll: Unionists advocate Irish language, same-sex marriage and abortion referendum - should the people decide?

By Rebecca Black

Three senior unionists who were involved in establishing power-sharing at Stormont 20 years ago have called for a referendum on issues currently causing deadlock in the talks.

These include whether there should be a stand-alone Irish Language Act for Northern Ireland, same-sex marriage laws and our abortion laws.

Former Ukip MLA David McNarry, ex-Ulster Unionist chairman David Campbell and former UUP MLA Michael McGimpsey launched their Breaking The Deadlock document at the Stormont Hotel yesterday.

Mr Campbell said they had shared their documents with each of the party leaders before releasing it to the media, and hoped it could help smooth the swift return of devolution.

He pointed out the Belfast Agreement had been passed following a referendum vote before becoming law.

"It would appear that there are three main issues of disagreement: The demand for a stand-alone Irish Language Act for Northern Ireland, the demand for the legal admissibility of same-sex marriage in Northern Ireland and the demand for the relaxation of the abortion law in Northern Ireland.

"One possible solution to break the deadlock would be to consult the Northern Ireland electorate on these issues."

Suggested questions for a referendum contained in the document included:

• Should Northern Ireland have a stand-alone Irish Language Act?

• Should couples of the same gender be permitted a civil marriage in Northern Ireland?

• Should Northern Ireland law be amended to permit an abortion where there is a diagnosis in pregnancy that the foetus suffers from a lethal abnormality?

• Should Northern Ireland law be amended to permit an abortion where a woman has become pregnant as a result of sexual crime including rape or incest?

The trio added: "None of us have electoral ambitions and we represent no parties in making this proposal. We offer it as a possible solution in good faith and hope it is accepted as such."

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