Same-sex marriage and abortion now legal in Northern Ireland

Abortion and same-sex marriage are now legal in Northern Ireland after legislation passed by Westminster MPs has come into effect.

The changes were brought in through amendments to a bill passed by MPs in the House of Commons in July.

A deadline of midnight on Monday had been in place for power-sharing to be restored, or the new law would come into effect.

An attempt was made by some MLAs to hold a sitting of the Assembly on Monday, for the first time in almost three years, but failed to get off the ground due to a lack of cross-community support.

The 19th Century laws that criminalise abortion have therefore lapsed and the Government assumes responsibility for introducing new regulations to provide greater access to terminations in the region by next April.

In the interim period, women will be offered free transport to access abortion services in England.

Under the Act, same sex marriage will become legal in Northern Ireland in January, with the first wedding expected the following month, on Valentine's Day.