Northern Ireland first minister vows to block Westminster move to set up abortion services

The DUP are anti-abortion. Credit: PA

Northern Ireland’s first minister has vowed to resist any move by Westminster to make Stormont set up full abortion services.

Abortion became legal in Northern Ireland in 2020, following a vote by MPs during the collapse of devolution.

However, due to disagreements between the Executive parties, full services are yet to be centrally commissioned.

Brandon Lewis Credit: Julien Behal Photography/PA

Secretary of State Brandon Lewis has used new powers to direct ministers in Belfast to take the steps necessary to establish abortion services across the region.

Signalling opposition to the intervention, Mr Givan, an assembly member for the anti-abortion DUP, warned he was prepared to go to court to block the move and said he was currently taking legal advice.

He said: “I spoke to the secretary of state and I said to him he shouldn’t do this, that it was wrong for him to do it.

“I was disappointed whenever he proceeded in issuing that direction.

“We are taking legal advice now as to the implications of that legal action that he has taken and what our options legally are to resist that.

“It certainly is my intention to resist what the secretary of state has done by way of a direction but I need to look at all of my options, both politically and legally, whenever it comes to this particular issue.”

To secure Executive approval, the DUP and Sinn Fein must both agree, but the DUP has blocked consideration of the commissioning issue at the Executive.

Mr Givan told BBC Northern Ireland that the order made by Mr Lewis had “profound constitutional ramifications”, adding that he “may have to take me to court” for obstructing the Westminster direction.

Sinn Fein, the Alliance Party and Green Party, however, welcomed the move by the secretary of state.