- Video report by ITV News Correspondent Angus Walker
Irish pro-choice campaigners have vowed to stand with and support advocates of abortion reform in Northern Ireland.
The Together for Yes coalition said the result of the Irish Republic’s abortion referendum, where two-thirds of citizens voted to end the state’s near-blanket ban on abortion, has lit a “beacon of hope” for campaigners calling for change across the globe.
Northern Ireland will soon be the only part of Ireland and Britain where an almost complete ban on abortion is in operation.
Laws on terminations in the region date back to the 19th Century and theoretically a woman found guilty of having an abortion could face life in prison.
Prime Minister Theresa May has been resisting calls from fellow Tory MPs to push for reform of Northern Ireland’s abortion laws in the wake of the Irish referendum.
Grainne Griffin, a co-director of Together for Yes, said the world had been watching the referendum campaign in Ireland.
“We revealed a changed Ireland to the world and, more than that, I think we lit a beacon of hope for countries all over the world where people are working toward similar change,” she said.
“First of all I know our minds and our eyes turn to the north, where there is a need for clear, comprehensive abortion legislation to be introduced to give the women in Northern Ireland access to the care that they need.
“We have received huge support and solidarity from the women of Northern Ireland and I know that everybody in Together for Yes will say that we stand with you now and we look to you, to work with you and to help you in achieving the same change in Northern Ireland as we saw here yesterday.”
Ms Griffin also expressed solidarity with pro-choice campaigners advocating reform in other countries, including Argentina, Chile and the Philippines.
“To countries who maybe think that sometimes with a background quite similar to ours that this kind of change is not possible, I think yesterday that we showed this change is possible and I hope that those women will look to us as a sign of what they will achieve in their own future,” she said.
“I think to a world that over the last number of years in terms of Trump and of Brexit where people have sometimes, where we have sometimes lost hope and where it seemed that positive change may not happen, I think yesterday what the women of Ireland and what the people of Ireland did – we defied expectations and I think we lit that beacon of hope and I hope that it extends far and wide and we will see change from it.”