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  1. ITV Report

Mixed reactions as NI law reforms take effect

Sara Canning attended an event in Derry welcoming the changes. Credit: UTV

The introduction of legal reforms in Northern Ireland has been “bittersweet” for Sara Canning, the partner of murdered journalist Lyra McKee.

Abortion has been decriminalised and same-sex marriage will be introduced, after new legislation passed by Westminster took effect at midnight.

The first weddings are expected to be held in February.

Reaction to the changes has been mixed, with Catholic bishops describing it as a “tragic day for the unborn child”.

They are also “concerned at the redefinition of marriage”, a statement said.

It went on: “The unavoidable truth is that our locally elected representatives had the time and the power to prevent this draconian Westminster abortion legislation being introduced over the heads of local citizens but chose not to do so.

“It is the duty of citizens to hold their elected representatives accountable for the decisions they have made.”

Meanwhile a rally welcoming the changes was held in Londonderry on Monday evening, almost exactly six months on from the murder of Lyra McKee.

The 29-year-old journalist was shot dead by dissident republicans during rioting.

Her partner Sara Canning said it’s “phenomenal” to see same-sex marriage legalised, but wishes she could share the moment with Lyra.

“I wish she was beside me right now, I wish we could realise the dream we had together, but on the other hand I’m so happy to see so many of my friends have that dream as well and they’re going to get to realise it with their partner - and that is beautiful,” she said.

“We spoke about being married and going to Donegal to do it, because in Donegal we could be actually married whereas when we cross the border we’d be civil partnered.

“So the thought that we could actually have got married here, we would have had that equality, there’s a sting in it.”

Ms Canning said Lyra would be “over the moon” with the law reforms and “so excited” for those who can now get married.

“She had the biggest heart, she wanted to see equality and it’s been delivered and I’m heartbroken that she’s not here beside me to see it, and that our plans are completely derailed as a result of the situation in Northern Ireland,” she went on.

“It’s incredibly heartbreaking.

“I always think Lyra has a hand in all the positive things that have happened, she was a hugely spiritual person and I always chalk it up to McKee working her mojo.”