Thousands attend Belfast abortion demonstrations

Thousands marched in silence. Credit: UTV

Three separate abortion rallies have been held in Belfast within the past 24 hours.

Thousands of people have taken to the streets to air their opposing views on plans to liberalise Northern Ireland's abortion laws.

Two demonstrations took place in city centre on Saturday afternoon.

The March For Their Lives event started at Custom House Square at 2pm,while the Rally For Choice took place at Writer's Square at 1.30pm.

It followed a demonstration at Stormont on Friday evening.

Protesters gathered at the front gates of the estate before walking up Prince of Wales Avenue to Parliament Buildings, where they stood in silence.

DUP leader Arlene Foster and UUP leader Robin Swann were among those attending.

Thousands marched in silence. Credit: UTV

In July, MPs passed the Northern Ireland (Executive Formation) Act, which contained a provision placing a duty on the Government to regulate to provide for access to abortion.

It comes into effect if the Stormont Executive is not restored by 21 October, with regulations required to be in place by the end of March 2020.

Speaking at Saturday's March For Their Lives event, Bernadette Smyth, director of Precious Life, said they are "fighting back" against the legislation.

"An unjust law was passed in July at Westminster," she said. "The people of Northern Ireland are saying here today, abortion is not in our name.

"There's no will for a change in the law so we're marching today for the future unborn children of Northern Ireland."

However, Elaine Crory from Rally For Choice said she believes a majority of people here support liberalising abortion law.

"The idea is to demonstrate that there's strong public opinion in favour of what we're asking for," she said at Saturday's event.

"Abortion is already happening, today people are travelling for abortion.

"You can take the view that it's murder but you can't stop it happening you can only stop it happening safely."