Belfast Telegraph

Gasps from Dublin audience as Labour MP Creasy slams DUP chief Foster's stance on abortion

By Aoife Moore

A member of the DUP has criticised Labour MP Stella Creasy after she publicly condemned Arlene Foster's stance on abortion at a global women's caucus.

Ms Creasy said in Dublin: "Right now there is only one woman who gets to make a choice about abortion rights for all women in Northern Ireland and she's called Arlene Foster."

The audience of hundreds of delegates from more than 40 countries across the globe audibly gasped after Ms Creasy described the criminalisation of abortion in Northern Ireland.

"In Northern Ireland, if you are raped, you can face a longer prison sentence than the person who attacked you if you choose to terminate that pregnancy," she said.

"The UK Supreme Court said this breaches the human rights of women, but my government refuses to step in to allow women in Northern Ireland to have modern abortion laws.

"And because my Prime Minister needs to be in power by using the votes from this person, they don't want to move forward on abortion legislation, but I don't think it's right that that one woman should make that choice."

Ms Creasy was taking part in a panel discussion on Our Vision for Women in 2018 at the International Congress of Parliamentary Women's Caucuses in Dublin Castle.

North Belfast DUP MLA Paula Bradley said Ms Creasy's criticisms were not in the spirit of the day. She said: "It's not embarrassing, it slightly annoyed me, we're here as part of a women's caucus.

"It angered me slightly, the one person today who had the back completely ripped out of her was Arlene Foster and no one else. That's bad for this type of event.

"Very much women's caucuses are here to support women."

Ms Creasy, who also criticised French right-wing leader Marine Le Pen and Australian Liberal Party politician Julie Bishop, said she had asked Ms Bradley for a meeting to discuss abortion reform, and the offer was rejected.

Ms Creasy also said Irish premier Leo Varadkar assured her he would support her campaign for abortion rights.

Earlier, Mr Varadkar described parts of the Irish constitution as "sexist and backward". He called the controversial clause which prioritises a women's domestic role "insulting and outdated" and called for it to be removed from the constitution.

Mr Varadkar also told the congress that women are under-represented in decision-making structures in the private and public sector.

He said: "Despite some of the changes we have made to the Irish constitution in recent months, many aspects of the Irish constitution are still sexist and still backward.

"I know there are some people who are opposed to changing this, to taking this language out of our constitution, saying it's only symbolic. But I think symbols and gestures matter.

"A women's place is where she wants it to be and our constitution should say no different.

"So as a government we support a referendum on the role of women at home, to remove this outdated and insulting language from our constitution, without diminishing the good work that carers do in our society."

The global gathering includes parliamentarians and diplomats representing more than 40 countries, as well as activists, writers, artists and academics.

The event is discussing issues facing women and how parliamentarians can work to address them.

Belfast Telegraph

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