A councillor for the Social Democrat and Labour Party (SDLP) has resigned from the party over its stance on abortion.
Stephanie Quigley announced on Monday evening that she was quitting the party but would remain a councillor for Causeway Coast and Glens.
Ms Quigley, who was preceded by her father Gerry McLaughlin as the SDLP councillor for Coleraine, told Irish News last night that the right to life was at the core of her politics.
“My natural home was in the SDLP,” she said.
“It was where my father honed his political voice.
“The philosophy which my father espoused was based on non-violence and the right to life.
“I followed in his footsteps and held the right to life and the life of the unborn child as the cornerstone of my political philosophy.”
However, according to Irish News, Ms Quigley said she could no longer remain a member of the SDLP given its position on the matter.
Ms Quigley, who will continue to serve as an independent councillor, added: “I have made friends for life within the party and wish them all the best for the future. I must however place the rights of those without a voice ahead of populism.”
SDLP MPs become first NI MPs to vote to impose extreme abortion regime on NI
Just last month, the SDLPs two sole MPs, joined Alliance Party MP Stephen Farry, voting 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 had voted against introducing the extreme abortion regime.
SDLP prevent progress of Bill preventing extreme NI abortion law
Last year, 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, 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 66% of SDLP voters were against the regulations.
Opposition to the extreme abortion regime formed a majority among every age category of both men and women.
‘No way I will be ever voting SDLP again’
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 expressed shock that the SDLP, a Nationalist party who claim they are pro-life, would “willingly allow 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.”
She added: “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.”