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Westminster accused of 'not listening' as MPs formally approve abortion service powers for Northern Ireland

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DUP Upper Bann MP Carla Lockhart Picture by Jonathan Porter/PressEye

DUP Upper Bann MP Carla Lockhart Picture by Jonathan Porter/PressEye

DUP Upper Bann MP Carla Lockhart Picture by Jonathan Porter/PressEye

The House of Commons has been accused of "not listening" to the views of Northern Ireland, as MPs voted to give Secretary of State Brandon Lewis the power to compel abortion services.

The DUP's Carla Lockhart made the comments after the House of Commons formally approved regulations on Tuesday which enable Brandon Lewis to take action on rolling out abortion services in Northern Ireland.

MPs in the House of Commons voted 431 to 89, majority 342, in favour of the Abortion (Northern Ireland) Regulations 2021.

The Northern Ireland Secretary of State had previously laid down regulations in Westminster allowing him to compel Stormont to directly implement abortion laws.

Individual health trusts have set up temporary early medical abortion pathways, but Northern Ireland-wide services have not yet been commissioned by the Department of Health.

The Health Minister Robin Swann has previously argued that, as a controversial issue, it is for the Executive to agree to set up the services.

Responding to the vote, the DUP MP for Upper Bann Carla Lockhart said Parliament "has not listened" to the views of Northern Ireland.

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"This vote ultimately legislates for the commissioning of abortion services in Northern Ireland," she said.

"It is a process that commenced when there was no functioning Assembly or Executive to take such decisions. That was the key rationale given at the time for why Parliament was taking action in an area which is a wholly devolved matter.

"We have seen clearly where other arguments claiming intervention was necessary because of international law have been demonstrated to be spurious. The CEDAW Committee report is not binding and does not constitute international obligations.

"Devolution has now been restored and there is already Private Members Legislation tabled at Stormont in relation to the abortion issue. The Northern Ireland Assembly is the place where such debates should happen and such decisions should be taken.

"The DUP has been consistent and united in our call to repeal Section 9 of the abortion legislation and allow this to be decided upon in Northern Ireland.

"This evening's vote is a further signal that Parliament has not listened to the views from Northern Ireland and ultimately has not respected the devolution settlement.

“MPs from across the House should recognise the enormous damage this has caused and the message it has sent out about devolution in Northern Ireland."


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