The Irish Catholic
Marches and demonstrations in the North have long been controversial and divisive. The ‘marching season’ was often a byword for violence and tension between the two communities. That’s what makes the huge pro-life demonstrations in Belfast at the weekend all the more remarkable.
On Friday night, some 20,000 people from all religious backgrounds and none went to Parliament Buildings at Stormont to show their opposition to Westminster’s plan to impose abortion on the region. They stood for six minutes of silence – one for each of the six counties.
The following day, an even bigger crowd took to the streets of Belfast – their posters, banners and placards had a simple yet powerful message: ‘not in our name’.
The sense of being bypassed was palpable and people were justifiably angry that no one had bothered to consult them about plans for abortion. It was the polar opposite of the principle of consent at the heart of the peace process and enshrined in the Good Friday Agreement, that the people of Northern Ireland – and only they – would decide their future.
When pro-abortion politicians in London decided to hijack the legislative process to impose abortion on the North, they drove a horse and cart through the Good Friday Agreement and showed utter contempt for the people of the North. Every MP and member of the House of Lords from Northern Ireland voted against the move. And yet, a rattlebag of MPs from England, Scotland and Wales decided that they knew best.
It was a deeply undemocratic move and one that cheapens and undermines the legislative process.
There is still time to block the move. But only the DUP and Sinn Féin can do that by re-establishing the democratic institutions before October 21. They must heed the voices of the tens of thousands who took to the streets and the many more who are opposed to this overreach from London that will have a devastating effect on future generations.
They cannot stand idly by and look people in the eye and tell them that Northern Ireland has one of the most liberal abortion regimes in the world because we wouldn’t go in to a room together and thrash out a deal to trigger the establishment of the Assembly and Executive.
No-one, whatever their view on abortion, who takes the Good Friday Agreement seriously should tolerate what is going on from Westminster. The people of the North must hold their politicians to account, insist that they get back around the table and send the message loud and clear – not in our name.