Tag Archives: northern ireland

Carmichael: Tories “hell-bent on unravelling the union”

Citing concerns raised by the Irish Justice Secretary to her Eurosceptic British counterpart, Michael Gove, Alistair Carmichael, Lib Dem Home Affairs Secretary has accused the Government of being “hell-bent on unravelling the Union.”

The Irish Minister said that decoupling Northern Irish law and the European Convention on Human Rights could undermine the Good Friday Agreemment on which the peaceful settlement in Northern Ireland was based.

The Minister’s letter can be read here.

This also applies to the devolution settlements in Scotland and Wales.

Alistair said:

The devolved settlements in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland all have the European convention hard-wired into them. This Tory government seems hell bent on unravelling the Union by their actions.

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An overview of the Northern Ireland elections

It was mid Saturday afternoon before the identity of the 108 MLAs who will take their seats in the Northern Irish Assembly were known. This is because the 6 members returned for each of the 18 constituencies were elected by STV (Single Transferable Vote) counted by hand not expensive machinery as some warned us about 5 years ago. However, some of the tales of this year’s election were already known before the end.

Firstly all 5 of the parties who made up the Executive at the start of the previous Assembly saw a drop in their first preference vote share. A drop of 2.9% for Sinn Féin, 2.2% for the SDLP, 0.8% for the DUP and 0.7% each for Alliance and UUP (who walked into opposition during the last mandate).

West Belfast caused excitement on both their first and final stage. On first preferences it was not Sinn Féin who topped the poll and took the first seat but Gerry Carroll of People Before Profit Alliance (PBPA). At the other end outgoing MLA Alex Atwood almost became the victim of a first unionist win since 2003 trailing the DUP’s Frank McCoubrey before the final redistribution pulled him 89 votes ahead.

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged | 6 Comments

David Steel on Northern Ireland abortion law

David Steel

We’ve just caught up with an interview with David Steel on the BBC Northern Ireland political show The View. (The interview starts 17:58 minutes in)

David was responsible for introducing the Abortion Act in 1967, which made abortion legal up to 28 weeks, later reduced to 24 weeks. But the law was never extended to Northern Ireland where the Offences Against the Person Act of 1861 still applies. Under that law a woman who procures her own abortion is guilty of a felony and can be given a prison sentence of life, or for up to two years ‘with or without hard labour, and with or without solitary confinement’. Current regulations permit termination only if the woman’s life is at risk or if continuing the pregnancy would put her long-term health at risk.

David says:

I think they’ve got to face up to the fact that the law in Northern Ireland is simply ridiculous – 1861 – and it is time they came up at least to 1967, if not 2016.

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Bearder calls on Theresa Villiers to quit if she backs Brexit

Lib Dem MEP Catherine Bearder has said that Northern Ireland Secretary Theresa Villiers should resign if she wants to campaign for Britain to leave the EU. She joined Northern Irish politicians who argued that the effect of leaving the EU would be acutely felt in Northern Ireland and the peace process could be at risk.

Catherine said:

Given the disastrous impact Brexit could have on the Northern Ireland peace process, it would be highly inappropriate for Theresa Villiers to remain in her post while campaigning to leave the EU.

Leaving Europe would risk stoking sectarian tensions and undoing years of peacebuilding, much of it funded through EU peace programmes. It would also fundamentally transform the UK’s relationship with the Republic of Ireland and put at risk the open land border we currently share.

David Cameron must stop putting the interests of his party ahead of those of the country. Government ministers should not be able to campaign for an EU exit if this completely goes against their role and responsibilities.

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Opinion: Human Rights Act – when rights clash

 

As one of the many who have recently joined the Liberal Democrats, my attention has been drawn to the fight to make sure that the Human Rights Act is not scrapped by the Conservatives. In a recent email from Tom Brake MP, we were reminded of the following rights afforded to us by the Human Rights Act:

  • the right to life;
  • the prohibition of torture and inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment;
  • the prohibition of slavery and forced labour;
  • the right to liberty and security of the person;
  • the right to a fair trial;
  • prohibition of punishment without law;
  • the right to respect for private and family life;
  • the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion;
  • the right to freedom of expression;
  • the right to freedom of assembly and association;
  • the right for men and women to marry and found a family;
  • the right to peaceful enjoyment of personal property;
  • the right to education;
  • the right to free elections;
  • and the prohibition of discrimination.

But what happens when there is friction between two or more of these rights?

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged | 49 Comments

Opinion: Northern Ireland and marriage equality

On Friday the people of Ireland voted on marriage equality in their referendum. The results on Saturday showed that 1,201,607 people voted Yes/Tá to 734,300 voting No/Níl making the result 62.1% to 37.9% in favour. Only one of the 43 constituencies, Roscommon – South Leitrim, voted no but only by a margin of 1,029 votes and barely nibbled into the overall trend of the votes that were being announced. The other forty-two constituencies had all by either a small (only 33 votes in Donegal South West) to a large (27,959 in Dublin South) margin voted yes. Overall 1,201,607 people voted Yes/Tá to 734,300 voting No/Níl 62.1% to 37.9%.

But the other question is where does that leave Northern Ireland, which is now the largest region of the British Isles that does not have equal marriage in any shape or form allowing people of the same-sex to marry?

Firstly if we look at the Northern Ireland Act 1998 it recognises that the people of Northern Ireland can identify as British or Irish or both. This is key now to moving forward. Then from the same piece of legislation we also note that:

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Opinion: What’s that you say, Mr Robinson?

Peter robinson by alan in belfastThis weekend,  Northern Ireland’s First Minister Peter Robinson addressed his party conference for the last time before the General Election and launched his ire at losing his seat in Westminster last time out. Talking of the DUP candidate’s chances for East Belfast next May he said:

There may be other unionists in the field, but they will only serve to divide the pro-union opposition to the flag-lowering, parade-stopping, gay marriage-supporting, pro water-charging, holier-than-thou Alliance Party.

It’s an interesting choice of words, which drew applause from his audience but needs a serious look at the implications of what they mean, for our sister party in Northern Ireland.

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  • User AvatarPaul Walter 28th May - 8:26am
    "grant given by the department of culture under its new culture secretary," Sounds scary Lorenzo. The whole point of having a licence fee is to...
  • User AvatarEnerglyn Churchill 28th May - 8:02am
    Thanks, Peter. I've been educated, so to speak.
  • User Avatarpetermartin2001 28th May - 7:58am
    @ J Dunn, "Protection Rcaket" might be a bit strong but I think your Costco card is a good analogy. So Britain pays a net...
  • User Avatarpetermartin2001 28th May - 7:41am
    Tom, Sorry to be a bit picky but, yes, Ireland and Greece needed a bailout (although I'd question whether that is quite the right word...
  • User AvatarLorenzo Cherin 28th May - 3:48am
    Katharine Pindar You make regularly constructive contributions , this is one of them I agree with a lot of and disagree as explained, you show...
  • User AvatarLorenzo Cherin 28th May - 2:29am
    P.S. No licence fee, do it from taxation, and have a properly independent broadcaster no government place men in sight , as we have a...