Belfast Telegraph

Jeffrey Donaldson's daughter a leading campaigner for abortion reform

By Christopher Woodhouse

Anti-abortion DUP MP Sir Jeffrey Donaldson has revealed his daughter supports the pro-choice movement.

The Lagan Valley MP's eldest daughter has been a leading figure in pro-choice rallies in Belfast and travelled to Dublin to celebrate the Yes campaign's recent referendum victory in the Republic.

"I'm passionately pro-life. My daughter has her own views," said Sir Jeffrey. "The differences of opinion in my home are reflected, I'm sure, in many families across Northern Ireland."

He said their difference were amicable. But he stressed his daughter, who is in her late 20s, is not in public life and wished to have her privacy respected by the media

"We have got respect for each other, that we hold different opinions, and my daughter knows I am very passionately pro-life and I don't think she's going to persuade me away from that point of view.

"I brought my children up to develop their own opinions on life and to respect the opinions of others, and that's the way I think it should be in any society.

"We talk regularly about this and other issues and I suppose it gives me an insight into the views and the thinking of people who take a different perspective from the one I do, and that has to be a healthy thing."

The MP added: "I've met many young people who are pro-life and I have met many young people who want to see a change to the law.

"It's a very strong debate in Northern Ireland at the moment, it crosses the generations, it crosses the community and political divide."

His daughter is a leading figure in a group that brands those who stand in the way of liberalising the 150-year-old abortion law as "misogynists". She was recently in Dublin with campaigner Ellie Evans, who was arrested and questioned by police for carrying a 'F*** the DUP' placard at last year's gay pride march in Belfast.

Ms Evans was not charged with any offence. Ms Evans and Sir Jeffrey's daughter carried signs in Dublin bearing the slogans 'Northern Ireland you're next' and 'The North is next'.

Her views couldn't be more different from those of her father, who has consistently opposed all attempts to relax laws concerning abortion. Last October she took part in a noisy Rally For Choice march in Belfast calling for equal abortion rights in line with those in the rest of the UK.

The group held a banner bearing the slogan 'Every misogynist's worst nightmare'.

The revelation comes in the week Sir Jeffrey told a debate in the Commons on extending full abortion rights to Northern Ireland that he was "proud" of his pro-life views.

"I am proud of that pro-life position, I am proud of the fact that there are so many people alive in Northern Ireland today because we have a law that respects the rights of both women and of the unborn child and we will maintain that position," he said.

Sir Jeffrey said the matter should be decided by the people of Northern Ireland rather than  Westminster.

Last week senior DUP figures, including leader Arlene Foster, claimed nationalists would support the party over others due to its  stance on abortion.

Mrs Foster said: "I have had emails from nationalists and republicans in Northern Ireland not quite knowing what is happening and saying they will be voting for the DUP because we are the only party that supports the unborn."

Belfast Telegraph

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