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Leading NGO groups welcome House Of Commons vote on same-sex marriage in Northern Ireland

Relationships Inside Ireland


'Some leading NGOs and civic society groups in Northern Ireland have welcomed the vote in the House of Commons on 09 July which requires UK legislation to extend same-sex marriage to Northern Ireland unless a Stormont Executive is formed by 21 October 2019.Under the legislation, the Government will be obliged to extend same-sex marriage to Northern Ireland unless devolution is restored by that October deadline.The amendment, known as New Clause 1, was proposed by Co Armagh-born Labour MP for St Helens North, Conor McGinn to the The Northern Ireland (Executive Formation) Bill 2017-19.Equal Marriage NI Demo, Belfast (Pic: InsideIreland.ie) NI Bill The short Bill amends Section 1 of the Northern Ireland (Executive Formation and Exercise of Functions) Act 2018 to extend the period for Northern Ireland Ministers to be appointed following the Assembly election held on 2 March 2017 to 21 October 2019.It also imposes a duty on the Secretary of State to report on progress towards the formation of an Executive in Northern Ireland.Mr McGinn’s amendment to the Bill was passed by the House of Commons 383 to 73.The Noes comprised 65 Conservative MPs and 8 DUP MPs.The Committee stage of the overall Bill concluded later on Tuesday evening. ‘Today’s a day for the history books’ Mr McGinn said LGBT people in Northern Ireland ‘can now look forward to enjoying the same rights as everyone else in the rest of the UK and on the island of Ireland’. Amnesty International said it worked with cross-party MPs on amendments within the Bill.Patrick Corrigan, Amnesty International’s Northern Ireland Director and part of the Love Equality coalition, said the passing of the amendment was ‘a huge cause for celebration’. “Marriage equality in Northern Ireland is finally a reality.For more than five years, same-sex couples in the rest of the UK have been able to get married whilst this right has been denied to citizens in Northern Ireland.Now, in just three months’ time, we could see the first same-sex couples here tying the knot.So many people have been campaigning for this for so long.At points it seemed unachievable, but we never gave up. “Today’s a day for the history books.” There was also an amendment put forward by Stella Creasy MP, which was voted through by 332 votes to 99 and which means the UK Government would be forced to legislate for abortion reform in the North if there is no devolution by 21 October.Gráinne Teggart, Amnesty International’s Northern Ireland Campaign Manager, said: “This is a significant defining moment for women’s rights in Northern Ireland.The Government must now put into law the recommendations from CEDAW, which includes the decriminalisation of abortion.” Students’ Union reaction The umbrella organisation for student unions in Northern Ireland, NUS-USI has ‘praised’ the Westminster MPs who voted for amendments to the Northern Ireland (Executive Formation) Bill 2019 to legislate for marriage equality and decriminalisation of abortion if the executive cannot be formed by 21 October 2019.Rally for Marriage Equality, Belfast (Pic: InsideIreland.ie) NUS-USI President, Robert Murtagh said: “We need a devolved, working Government in Northern Ireland.Equally, we need marriage equality and free, safe and legal abortion services.We want both as a matter of urgency.It’s what the students and young people here deserve.” Political Reaction Sinn Féin MP Elisha McCallion said that marriage equality, like Irish language rights, victims and women’s rights ‘should be addressed by the Assembly’. “Rights delayed are rights denied and the obvious political imperative now is to ensure that all citizens are afforded rights and equality, regardless of where they live on these islands.” Alliance Leader Naomi Long MEP said the House of Commons vote was the result of ‘a lot of hard work from campaigners, politicians and the community’. Like, Ms McCallion, Ms Long also called for the restoration of the Assembly at Stormont. “This does not change the fact we need the Assembly back as soon as possible to deal with a wide range of other issues, including health, education and infrastructure.However, it does make certain any restored Assembly must have the capacity to legislate for equal marriage. “Alliance wanted this addressed on the floor of the Assembly rather than via Westminster, however, our priority is that it happens.Thanks to this amendment, today we have moved a bit closer to the modern, diverse and welcoming Northern Ireland we all want to see.” The DUP did not read an official statement on the votes.However, TUV leader Jim Allister said the challenge to the DUP, who have a ‘confidence and supply’ arrangement with the Conservative Party in the House of Commons, is ‘obvious’. “Will they roll over on Sinn Féin Irish Language Act demands to regain what passes for power at Stormont, or will they give legs to the principles they espouse on same sex marriage and abortion, by making retreat by HMG on these issues the price of their ‘confidence and supply’. “Make no mistake, the DUP has the means to thwart this meddling by making the status quo of devolved control of these issues the cost of the new confidence and supply arrangements which require to be negotiated with the new Prime Minister.If it does so, then it will dispel any suspicion that there is mutual advantage across the power-seeking Stormont parties to have these issues removed from the mix.” . The post Leading NGO groups welcome House Of Commons vote on same-sex marriage in Northern Ireland appeared first on Inside Ireland .'