The Social Democrat and Labour Party (SDLP), a self-proclaimed pro-life party, walked out of Stormont yesterday sabotaging a bill that would have prevented Northern Ireland having the most extreme abortion laws in Europe being imposed on them.
Before Stormont sat yesterday, the DUP had asked the incumbent Speaker if he would allow a Private Members Bill, which would have prevented Westminster imposing an extreme abortion regime on Northern Ireland, to be debated and voted on, before the formation of an Executive.
The incumbent Speaker declined this request, ruling that an Executive must be formed through the election of a Speaker and Deputy Speaker must be conducted before The Defence of the Unborn Child Act 2019 could be discussed.
The role of Speaker can only be elected with cross-community support, from at least one nationalist and one unionist party.
Both Sinn Fein and Alliance boycotted yesterday’s sitting, leaving the SDLP as the only nationalist party in the room able to form an Executive.
However, the SDLP leader Colum Eastwood dismissed the move to protect unborn babies as a political stunt. Before walking out of Stormont he addressed the house saying that the SDLP “will not provide cross-community support for the election of a Speaker”.
By walking out – making it impossible to elect a Speaker – the SDLP made the decision not to support the efforts to stop Northern Ireland having Europe’s most extreme abortion laws imposed on them by Westminster.
Following the SDLP’s walk-out, DUP leader Arlene Foster noted that Northern Ireland would now have one of the most liberal abortion regimes in Europe. She said it was a “very sad” and “shameful day”.
TUV leader Jim Allister told the media: “There was a definite pathway here but it was blockaded both by Sinn Féin and the SDLP, and particular shame on the SDLP who parade, on occasions their pro-life credentials.”
Nationalist voter Mary Lewis said:
“As a nationalist, I’m shocked that the SDLP, a party who claim they are pro-life, and the nationalist Sinn Fein have willingly allowed the UK Parliament to legislate for the people of Northern Ireland and impose the most extreme abortion law in Europe on our small province, without consideration of the devolution settlement.
“As an SDLP voter, I am appalled that the SDLP leader, Colum Eastwood, has dismissed an attempt to save lives of unborn children as a political stunt. I am further shocked that his party chose to walk out of the chamber which meant that the attempt to introduce a bill to stop Westminster imposing abortion on Northern Ireland would have blocked.
“There is no way that anyone from the SDLP can now call themselves pro-life. There is also no way that they can call themselves Nationalist when they actively blocked an attempt to stop Westminster imposing legislation on Northern Ireland. There is no way I will be ever voting for the SDLP again.”