Ahead of the election in Northern Ireland, an SDLP candidate has had to apologise to voters after she implied that those concerned about abortion should “go and get a life”.
Sinéad McLaughlin, who hopes to hold her seat in the upcoming election on 5 May, complained that voters were asking her about her position on abortion saying: “I’m sick of going round doors and listening to this never-ending ‘what’s your position and what’s not your position around abortion.’ Like, you know, seriously [it’s] 2022, go and get a life”.
She made the disparaging comments in the context of an SDLP Zoom meeting in which she proudly discussed her efforts to make the party more pro-abortion. Her comments were widely shared on social media and have come under sharp criticism.
The Aontú candidate for South Down, Rosemary McGlone, said: “[McLaughlin] suggests voters who dare to ask such questions should ‘go and get a life’. Lovely”.
Declan McGuinness, brother of the former Sinn Féin leader, Martin McGuinness, said that McLaughlin’s views were a “two fingers up” to Derry voters from the SDLP.
Pro-life group Precious Life shared Ms McLaughlin’s remarks and urged pro-life voters to “strategically use the transfer voting system to ensure only pro-life candidates are elected”.
McLaughlin subsequently issued an apology for her “poor choice of words and for the offence that this has obviously caused”.
In a Facebook post, she said: “Upon rewatching the footage, I think that my choice of words in the moment did not reflect the point that I was trying to make. So, for clarity, while I am pro-choice and have a deep conviction on this matter, I do not in any way want to disparage or denigrate those who, for their own reasons and with their own experience, hold a differing view”.
Abortion was forced on Northern Ireland in 2019 by Westminster against the will of every Northern Irish MP that took their seat in the House of Commons at the time.
SDLP MPs become first NI MPs to vote to impose extreme abortion regime on NI
In 2020, the SDLP’s two sole MPs, along with Alliance Party MP Stephen Farry, voted in favour of a motion approving the Government’s decision to impose an extreme abortion regime on Northern Ireland.
Prior to the 2019 election, all Northern Ireland constituent MPs who took their seat in the House of Commons had voted against introducing the extreme abortion regime.
SDLP prevents progress of Bill that would have prevented extreme NI abortion law
In October 2020, the SDLP, a self-proclaimed pro-life party, sabotaged a Bill that would have prevented an extreme abortion regime from being imposed on Northern Ireland.
A last-ditch attempt to form a Northern Ireland Executive on 21 October 2020, which would have prevented Westminster MPs from being able to force abortion on the province, failed after SDLP leader Colum Eastwood dismissed the move as a political stunt – yet staged a walkout with his party.
By walking out, the SDLP made the decision not to support the efforts to stop Northern Ireland from having one of Europe’s most extreme abortion laws imposed on them by Westminster.
This unilateral decision was made by the party despite a significant majority of its supporters outlining their opposition to the abortion regulations.
A poll, weighted to reflect Northern Irish society, revealed that 66% of SDLP voters were against the regulations.
Right To Life UK spokesperson, Catherine Robinson said: “McLaughlin may say that she does not wish to disparage or denigrate those with views different from her own, but her words speak for themselves. She clearly holds those voters who are concerned to safeguard the rights of unborn children in contempt. Perhaps, if she doesn’t want to hear views different from her own, she’s picked the wrong career path”.