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Nicola Sturgeon 'no plans' to meet Arlene Foster during Scotland visit

Arlene Foster and Nicola Sturgeon. (Jeff J Mitchell/PA)
Arlene Foster and Nicola Sturgeon. (Jeff J Mitchell/PA)

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon does not plan to meet Arlene Foster during the DUP leader's visit to Scotland later this month.

Ms Foster will speak at one of Scotland's largest Orange Order parades in Cowdenbeath, Fife, on June 30 and is expected to stress there is "no place for sectarianism" during the speech at the Boyne celebration march. She is also said to be holding other meetings during her visit.

Speaking at First Minister's Questions, Ms Sturgeon said: "I have no plans to meet Arlene Foster when she is in Scotland."

Her spokesman said he is not aware of Ms Foster attempting to set up a meeting.

Labour's Kezia Dugdale urged the First Minister to raise the the issue of abortion laws in Northern Ireland with the DUP leader and called for a travel bursary to be set up for Northern Irish women travelling to Scotland for terminations.

She said: "In Northern Ireland, some women have received longer jail sentences for having an abortion than the men who raped them in first place.

"I urge the First Minister to arrange a meeting with Arlene Foster and raise this issue when she visits Scotland later this month.

"I hope Nicola Sturgeon will consider addressing the barriers that women face when boarding ferries in Belfast in accessing services here in Scotland.

"I support the introduction of a travel bursary for as long as Northern Irish women are denied their basic human rights."

Women from Northern Ireland have been able to access free abortion services in Scotland since last November as in their home nation the procedure is only permitted if a woman's life is endangered or if there is a risk of serious damage to her mental or physical health.

Ms Sturgeon said: "I am absolutely in support of ensuring that all women have access to safe abortion services, and that includes women from Northern Ireland."

She said the Scottish Government would continue to look at how to make services in Scotland "easier" to access for Northern Irish women, saying the current laws there are "deeply unfair and unjust to women".

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