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McDonald calls for reality check to overcome abortion objections

Sinn Fein’s Mary Lou McDonald outside the Palace of Westminster (Stefan Rousseau/PA) Photo:

Sinn Fein president Mary Lou McDonald has said those supporting the ongoing ban on abortion in Northern Ireland need “a reality check”.

On a visit to London for a meeting with Theresa May, Mrs McDonald repeated her call for abortion reform north of the border following the Republic of Ireland’s historic referendum last month.

On Saturday, Sinn Fein members overwhelmingly voted in favour of Mrs McDonald’s proposal to liberalise the party’s stance on terminations.

Speaking outside Westminster, she told the Press Association: “It’s unconscionable that any woman who calls the island of Ireland home would be refused the care that she needs at home.

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“So legislation is coming through the southern system – we want to see that replicated in the north also.”

Mrs McDonald said she did not see an immediate avenue for reform in light of Northern Ireland’s deadlocked political situation following the collapse of power sharing between her party and the DUP 18 months ago.

In the meantime, she said Sinn Fein would be calling on the Republic of Ireland to provide services to women living in the north.

“That’s not the ideal solution, we are not pretending that it is, but in the interim that’s what needs to happen.

“Then we need our institutions back and we need a reality check by lots of people – all of whom are entitled to deeply held religious perspectives, conscience perspectives, but none of whom have the right to dictate the religious or conscience positions of others and have no legitimate expectation that the law of the land has to tally with their personal theology.

“I think that’s a challenge for the DUP, I think that’s a challenge that needs to be met and I think it’s certainly a message that we are sending out load and clear from a modern and a modernising Ireland.”