1. ITV Report

Campaigners hand in ‘largest ever’ abortion petition

Jim Wells presented the Assembly with "the largest petition it has ever received". Photo: @Jim_Wells_MLA

Anti-abortion campaigners have handed in a 300,000-strong petition at Stormont opposing change to abortion laws in Northern Ireland.

DUP MLA Jim Wells said it was the “largest ever” petition brought before the Assembly, as he submitted one of the 57 boxes containing signatures to Speaker Robin Newton.

It comes a week after Amnesty International presented a 45,000-strong petition calling for reform of NI’s restrictive abortion laws.

Mr Wells said: “Today I am presenting you with what I believe to be the largest petition ever received by the Northern Ireland Assembly - 300,000 signatures - not 45,000 - 300,000 signatures calling for the protection of unborn children in Northern Ireland.

"These have been signed by Northern Ireland residents who have given their address and can be verified so therefore I believe that this petition is indeed authentic."

Jim Wells said there have been eight million abortions in the rest of the United Kingdom since the introduction of the current 1967 Act.

"I am absolutely convinced the people of Northern Ireland do not want that law to extend to this part of the United Kingdom," the South Down representative went on.

The opposing petitions come at a time when the Executive has been considering the recommendations of an expert panel tasked to examine the ban in respect of cases involving a diagnosis of fatal foetal abnormality.

Sinn Féin deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness has indicated his support for a legislative change in regard to those specific instances.