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James Nesbitt 'frustrated' at Stormont deadlock: Extraordinary gay marriage and abortion not legal in Northern Ireland, says actor

By Claire Williamson

Actor James Nesbitt has told Northern Ireland's politicians to get back to business describing it as "extraordinary" abortion and gay marriage was still illegal.

The Coleraine actor was speaking after he took part in the Pro Am at the Irish Open tournament in Portstewart.

He told the Stephen Nolan Show of his frustrations with the current political impasse.

The Stormont deadlock is set to remain during the summer, as talks to restore the institutions have been scaled down amid widespread acknowledgement a deal before the autumn is unlikely.

Mr Nesbitt said: "There is nothing worse than an actor who has moved away talking about this.

"But a few weeks ago in the run up to the election, I watched the debates, and I say debate, but it was more just a noise of different representatives of all the sides.

"That language of intransigence and lack of respect for one another and you thought everyone seems to have moved on in Northern Ireland except some of the politicians, so it was very frustrating."

Mr Nesbitt said the recent £1bn DUP and Conservative party confidence and supply deal to prop up Theresa May's minority government "should be reason to celebrate".

He said: "I hope it is. If we in Northern Ireland had a real voice then we could tackle things like education, agriculture, health."

Mr Nesbitt said he understood the concerns people had about the DUP's views on issues such as gay marriage and abortion.

He said: "I understand that I'm from Broughshane originally. I understand people have an inbuilt and sometimes truthful resistance to things like that.

"If history teaches us anything is that change is inevitable and important. And it's as important for us to get behind something that we don't necessarily agree with.

"I truthfully think, that we are about the only region in western Europe where gay marriage and abortion is still illegal - I find it extraordinary - I mean who cares?"

He added: "I don't want to in any way tread on people's principles, everyone has their rights. But I just think those things challenge the notion of democracy and that's about judgement. I don't think democracy should ever be about judgement.

"Everyone is entitled to their own religious beliefs there are more important things to worry about in Northern Ireland."

Mr Nesbitt said there is opportunity for "real debate, reform and change".

He added that getting the institutions back up and running and that it was "an important factor of how we will continue to evolve in NI".

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