- 10 Jul 19
Citizens of the North have been sharing their reactions to the news that same-sex marriage and abortion access votes have been passed in Westminster.
The same-sex marriage amendment, which was tabled by Conor McGinn MP, and the abortion access amendment, tabled by Stella Creasy MP, were both added into a relatively unassuming Bill about governance in Northern Ireland in the absence of devolution.
However, both amendments were accepted by the Speaker of the House of Commons, meaning that - for the first time in several years - Northern Ireland once again had the opportunity for equal rights (albeit by a Westminster vote and not by a vote in Stormont).
As reported by Hot Press yesterday afternoon, both votes passed with overwhelming majorities. The Commons voted 383 to 73 to accept Conor McGinn's amendment on same-sex marriage, and voted 332-99 to extend abortion access rights to Northern Ireland.
Political commentators and prominent figures have been sharing their reactions to the news.
Both Stella Creasy and Conor McGinn shared messages on Twitter following the vote:
— stellacreasy (@stellacreasy) July 9, 2019
WE DID IT !!!!!
The House of Commons has voted by a massive majority to introduce same-sex marriage in Northern Ireland if the Stormont Executive isn’t restored by 21st October.
Thank you to @Love_EqualityNI & the thousands of people who have campaigned for equal marriage. pic.twitter.com/TDalAw1VIg
— Conor McGinn (@ConorMcGinn) July 9, 2019
As well as that, thousands of activists throughout Northern Ireland - who, let's not forget, paved the way for this action to occur - shared messages of joy at this news.
Green Party leader Clare Bailey wrote "Good day's work from #Westminster. It has taken years of constant campaigning but hopefully after many legal cases, marching, rallies, meetings, conferences, we could see NI finally allowing #abortionrights & #equalmarriage."
Good day's work from #Westminster. It has taken years of constant campaigning but hopefully after many legal cases, marching, rallies, meetings, conferences, we could see NI finally allowing #abortionrights & #equalmarriage
— Clare Bailey (@ClareBaileyGPNI) July 9, 2019
Numerous activists paid tribute to the late Lyra McKee, the LGBT campaigner, activist and journalist who was murdered in Derry back in May. Her partner, Sara Canning, spoke about the landmark vote on BBC yesterday evening:
Heartbreaking, poignant, powerful.
Sara Canning, partner of Lyra McKee, says the passing of same-sex marriage amendment is "absolutely momentous" But:
"heartbroken as the person I wanted to marry isn't here to see it happen"#equalmarriage #NowForNI 🕊pic.twitter.com/4pxE7qbZ0U
— Dr. Jennifer Cassidy (@OxfordDiplomat) July 9, 2019
The Fall and Derry Girls actress Bronagh Waugh, who had epitomised all of our nervous waiting right before the vote, tweeted in joyous relief at the news:
— Bronagh Waugh (@bronaghwaugh) July 9, 2019
Meanwhile, 'wee lesbian Clare' actress and long-time abortion rights campaign, Nicola Coughlan, shared her delight at the news:
I have no words, so emotional. So happy for the people of NI ❤️ pic.twitter.com/iiYrz5yqJC
— Nicola Coughlan (@nicolacoughlan) July 9, 2019
SINN FEIN & DUP
Despite the news, the laws on same-sex marriage and abortion access will only be implemented in Northern Ireland if there is still no Executive up and running in Stormont by October 21. This has led to the almost bizarre situation where Sinn Fein might want to hold off on going back in a devolved government before then, and the DUP might be more amenable to negotiating with the republican party on issues such as the Irish Language Act (which was a sticking point in the last round of talks).
Indeed, neither party was quick to publicly respond to the vote yesterday afternoon. Sinn Fein evidently didn't want to be seen to be thanking the UK Parliament for their action (especially considering that seven Sinn Fein MPs refuse to take their seats in that Parliament). Meanwhile, the DUP will likely be furious that the UK Parliament has involved itself in what it sees as devolved matters.
Speaking on BBC Northern Ireland earlier this morning, DUP MP Jeffrey Donaldson said that a vote by MPs to legalise same-sex marriage and liberalise NI's abortion law had "breached the devolution settlement". Sinn Féin's Conor Murphy said that the government has a responsibility to deliver rights in Stormont's absence.
Commentators and political pundits will likely keep an eye on the ongoing talks between the DUP and Sinn Fein in the near future.