Belfast Telegraph

Home News Politics

Abortion: London will not risk law change in Northern Ireland, claims DUP's Jim Wells

DUP’s Jim Wells at the party’s Lisburn office
DUP’s Jim Wells at the party’s Lisburn office
Victoria Leonard

By Victoria Leonard

Former DUP Health Minister Jim Wells has said the Prime Minister "is not going to endanger" its Westminster arrangement with his party by "trying to push through abortion" here.

The South Down MLA was speaking outside the Lisburn DUP offices of Edwin Poots MLA, Jeffrey Donaldson MP and Paul Givan MLA as pro-choice activists from Rosa NI protested against his party's stance on the issue.

He described abortion in Northern Ireland as "absolutely crucial" to the confidence and supply deal in the Commons, and said there were "other big issues" for Theresa May.

"For instance, there's been 54 votes on Brexit in our Parliament - 49 of them have been won by 10 or fewer votes," he said.

"That's how much a knife-edge situation is in the Commons at the moment, and I don't think she is going to put that in any danger by trying to push through abortion." Mr Wells admitted that since he isn't an MP he doesn't "have any role in those discussions" at Westminster.

"I'm totally opposed to any change in the legislation in Northern Ireland," he continued.

"The Assembly last dealt with this issue on February 10, 2016, and made a very, very clear decision - we do not want any change in the law in Northern Ireland.

"The vast majority of people in Northern Ireland are pro-life, they believe in the protection of the rights of the unborn child, and we've saved the lives of 102,000 people in Northern Ireland by not having abortion on demand.

"No doubt if the Assembly was back it would make exactly the same decision."

Mr Wells said he didn't intend to speak to protesters as he didn't want to have "an unholy shambles here of people attacking each other".

Eleanor Crossey Malone displays an abortion pill packet after taking a pill as abortion rights campaign group ROSA, Reproductive Rights Against Oppression, Sexism and Austerity distribute abortion pills from a touring bus on May 31, 2018 in Belfast. (Photo by Charles McQuillan/Getty Images)
Eleanor Crossey Malone displays an abortion pill packet after taking a pill as abortion rights campaign group ROSA, Reproductive Rights Against Oppression, Sexism and Austerity distribute abortion pills from a touring bus on May 31, 2018 in Belfast. (Photo by Charles McQuillan/Getty Images)
Eleanor Crossey Malone takes an abortion pill. (Photo by Charles McQuillan/Getty Images)
Dr Rebecca Gomperts discusses abortion pills with a PSNI inspector. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Thursday May 31, 2018. See PA story IRISH Abortion. Photo credit should read: David Young/PA Wire
Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) Jim Wells speaks to the media in Lisburn. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Thursday May 31, 2018. See PA story IRISH Abortion. Photo credit should read: David Young/PA Wire
Pro choice campaigners outside Belfast's Crown and High Courts where counter-demonstrations were held by both sides of the Northen Irish abortion argument. Northern Ireland is the only part of the UK where the procedure is not legal. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Thursday May 31, 2018. See PA story IRISH Abortion. Photo credit should read: David Young/PA Wire
BELFAST, NORTHERN IRELAND - MAY 31: Bernie Smyth (L) of Precious Lives holds a counter pro life protest as abortion rights campaign group ROSA, Reproductive Rights Against Oppression, Sexism and Austerity distribute abortion pills from a touring bus on May 31, 2018 in Belfast, Northern Ireland. Flouting Northern Irish governmental laws which forbid the use of abortion pills the group are also protesting outside offices belonging to the main political parties in the province. Women in Northern Ireland have been prosecuted for buying abortion pills over the internet and it is illegal for a woman to have an abortion unless in special circumstances unlike the rest of the United Kingdom. The Republic of Ireland voted in favour of pro-choice last week in a referendum. (Photo by Charles McQuillan/Getty Images)
BELFAST, NORTHERN IRELAND - MAY 31: A robot drone delivers abortion pills as abortion rights campaign group ROSA, Reproductive Rights Against Oppression, Sexism and Austerity distribute abortion pills from a touring bus on May 31, 2018 in Belfast, Northern Ireland. Flouting Northern Irish governmental laws which forbid the use of abortion pills the group are also protesting outside offices belonging to the main political parties in the province. Women in Northern Ireland have been prosecuted for buying abortion pills over the internet and it is illegal for a woman to have an abortion unless in special circumstances unlike the rest of the United Kingdom. The Republic of Ireland voted in favour of pro-choice last week in a referendum. (Photo by Charles McQuillan/Getty Images)
Doctor Rebecca Gomparts (R) comforts a woman after she is is led away by a police officer for questioning after taking an abortion pill as abortion rights campaign group ROSA, Reproductive Rights Against Oppression, Sexism and Austerity distribute abortion pills from a touring bus on May 31, 2018 in Belfast, Northern Ireland. (Photo by Charles McQuillan/Getty Images)
Abortion protest in Belfast. Mandatory Credit - Picture by Freddie Parkinson/Press Eye © Thursday 31 May 2018
Anti-abortion camapigner Bernie Smyth at protest in Belfast. Mandatory Credit - Picture by Freddie Parkinson/Press Eye ©
Abortion protest in Belfast. Mandatory Credit - Picture by Freddie Parkinson/Press Eye © Thursday 31 May 2018
Pacemaker Press 31/5/2018 Pro Choice campaigners take a pill during a protest outside the Belfast Courts on Thursday. Abortion pills where delivered by robots to activists waiting to take them, The protest took place in answer to the ongoing abortion ban in Northern Ireland. Pic Pacemaker
Pacemaker Press 31/5/2018 Pro Choice campaigners take a pill during a protest outside the Belfast Courts on Thursday. Abortion pills where delivered by robots to activists waiting to take them, The protest took place in answer to the ongoing abortion ban in Northern Ireland. Pic Pacemaker
Pacemaker Press 31/5/2018 Pro Choice campaigners take a pill during a protest outside the Belfast Courts on Thursday. Abortion pills where delivered by robots to activists waiting to take them, The protest took place in answer to the ongoing abortion ban in Northern Ireland. Pic Pacemaker
Pacemaker Press 31/5/2018 Pro Choice campaigners take a pill during a protest outside the Belfast Courts on Thursday. Abortion pills where delivered by robots to activists waiting to take them, The protest took place in answer to the ongoing abortion ban in Northern Ireland. Pic Pacemaker
Pacemaker Press 31/5/2018 Pro Choice campaigners during a protest outside the Belfast Courts on Thursday. Abortion pills where delivered by robots to activists waiting to take them, The protest took place in answer to the ongoing abortion ban in Northern Ireland. Pic Pacemaker
Taking abortion pills distributed at Belfast pro-choice rally may lead to arrest, warn police. Pic Freddie Parkinson Presseye.
Abortion protest in Belfast. Picture by Freddie Parkinson/Press Eye ©
Abortion protest in Belfast. Mandatory Credit - Picture by Freddie Parkinson/Press Eye ©
Abortion protest in Belfast. Mandatory Credit - Picture by Freddie Parkinson/Press Eye ©.
Abortion protest in Belfast. Mandatory Credit - Picture by Freddie Parkinson/Press Eye ©.
Abortion protest in Belfast. Mandatory Credit - Picture by Freddie Parkinson/Press Eye ©
Abortion protest in Belfast. Pic Freddie Robinson Presseye
Jim Wells, DUP. Mandatory Credit - Picture by Freddie Parkinson/Press Eye ©

He said: "It's a dignified protest.

"They have every right to have a protest." Exiting the office before the protesters arrived, Lagan Valley MLA Mr Poots also declined to wait to speak with the pro-choice group, saying he had "constituency issues to attend to".

"They haven't asked to speak to me, so I haven't anything to say to them," he said.

"These are all issues which will be dealt with at a Westminster level.

"Eight million babies have lost their lives in the United Kingdom because of the laws that exist. Why would anybody want to see children having their lives taken away in the way that has happened across the UK?

"The south of Ireland is a different country and what they choose to do is for that country.

"I support the right to protest so I'm quite happy for people to protest."

After picketing at the DUP offices, the demonstrators staged a similar protest at Sinn Fein's offices in Cookstown.

The day of protest ended with a rally in Londonderry.

Belfast Telegraph

Popular

From Belfast Telegraph